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Mike Smith guides Justify to Triple Crown, oldest jockey

14 June, 2018, 07:45 | Author: John Swanson
  • Belmont Stakes live stream: How to watch Justify go for the Triple Crown without a TV

The favored three-year-old chestnut colt was barely pushed as he completed the 1-1/2 mile (12-furlong) course in a wire-to-wire win in overcast but dry conditions at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York.

His Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert, joined the late James "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons as the only other trainer to win two Triple Crowns.

The large and muscular Justify, owned by China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing & WinStar Farm, was ridden to victory by veteran jockey Mike Smith.

The big, chestnut colt stood above the other horses with a commanding lead all the way through the homestretch Saturday in Elmont, N.Y. It was only his sixth race, and some bettors had anxious that he packed too many races into the 110 days leading up to the race, but it was no contest.

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness victor has been guided to this point by a couple of veterans: trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith.

Belmont Stakes live stream: How to watch Justify go for the Triple Crown without a TV
Justify Wins the 13th Triple Crown in Horse Racing History

"He's made a lot of my goals come true but today, he made my dream come true".

Also, the first 5,000 fans in attendance Saturday will receive a free commemorative print of Justify that celebrates his Triple Crown achievement. A plan will be formulated once the chestnut colt recovers from a compressed schedule that saw him win six races over 111 days since his debut on February 18.

Justify has to overcome the No. 1 post position and Baffert will be watching closely to see if the colt breaks cleanly from the gate.

Forbes has estimated that once retired, Justify could demand an initial $100,000 stud fee - giving him a $60 million value based exclusively on breeding fees if he were to cover 150 mares per breeding season for four years.

"Just so blessed that this happened", he told broadcaster NBC. He's so gifted. He was sent from Heaven.

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Some names even the casual racing fan will recognize as third-jewel winners, in addition to the 12 Triple Crown winners, include Spendthrift, Peter Pan, Colin, Native Dancer, Nashua, Needles, Gallant Man, Sword Dancer, Riva Ridge, Conquistador Cielo, Swale, Bet Twice, Risen Star, Easy Goer, A.P. Indy, Colonial Affair, Point Given and Empire Maker.

After waiting almost four decades for a Triple Crown victor, lightning has apparently struck twice in a four-year span.

Baffert had fretted after Justify drew the No. 1 post, a spot he detests for his horses.

Restoring Hope, also trained by Baffert, ran interference for the champion while traveling second and deterring any threats by forcing them to go extremely wide.

"He acts like he likes the attention", Smith said.

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There were mild bids turning for home. "I mean, they're a good combination and they got the job done". Vino Rosso made the most serious move to get within a length but never threatened.

"[This horse] was showing me the same signs [as American Pharoah], he showed me that same brilliance".

Among those expected to be on hand is New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski brought back $13.80 to place and $7 to show, while Hofburg paid $3.70 to show. The second choice now is Hofburg, followed by Bravazo and Vino Rosso who share third billing as it were.

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