Thursday, 21 June, 2018

Arizona native brings home second Triple Crown victory in 4 years

Al Bello  Getty Images Al Bello Getty Images
Rita Gibson | 12 June, 2018, 11:11

Justify became the 13th horse to win thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown on Saturday after charging to victory at the Belmont Stakes in NY.

Justify made all the running under Mike Smith to win the Belmont Stakes and become the 13th horse to complete the Triple Crown on Sunday morning (AEST).

Before Saturday's Belmont Stakes, which Justify won by 1 3/4 lengths over surprise second-place finisher Gronkowski, the massive chestnut colt with the white blaze had won the Kentucky Derby by a 2 1/2-length margin, becoming the first since Apollo in 1882 to win the classic without running as a 2-year-old.

Justify becomes racing's 13th Triple Crown victor and second in four years.

The big, powerful colt had proved his ability and speed in winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness in the first two jewels of the Triple Crown.

It was jockey Mike Smith's first Triple Crown. As he crossed the finish line, the race caller exclaimed, "American Pharoah is finally the one!" Baffert said he was taken aback by the reaction of the other horses in the barn when Justify entered the building, so to speak.

More importantly, to his owners at least, the win makes him the most valuable horse in racing history. He has won all six races he has run this year.

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Gronkowski, named for the National Football League player, finished second, after having been last for the first half of the race.

"It'll be a Triple Crown victor that'll be remembered for ever", said Gunther "It's just unreal".

"As I say, I've got to give all the credit to my daughter who planned the mating of Justify, and my staff at Glennwood". Breaking from the less-than-desired No. 1 post, Smith gunned Justify to the lead and never looked back. Baffert said he felt confident, not stressed, during the run-up to the race. "We just feel really blessed to have his horse". "When the half-brother was foaled he was lying in the stall and his legs were so long that I said to Tanya, 'Well, here's one we can't sell'". The weather in California [where Baffert is based] is very consistent; [Justify] was going into training late; I thought that was something that was a consideration. In 2014, a Peter Pan victor, Tonalist, squelched California Chrome's Triple Crown bid.

Getty American Pharoah was the last horse to win the Triple Crown. "He's sent from heaven". Justify becomes the thirteenth Triple Crown victor and the first since American Pharoah in 2015.

Baffert seemed to acknowledge that the plan for Restoring Hope was to lay in second for the first turn, but not as part of a plan to help Justify. "But I said, I don't know, three is a good number".

Trainer Todd Pletcher also has two horses in the field - 8-1 Vino Rosso and 30-1 Noble Indy.

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