In the ten horse race, five horses that had odds at 10-1 or better (#1 Justify 4/5, #4 Hofburg 6-1, #3 Bravazo 7-1, #8 Vino Rosso 7-1, #7 Tenfold 10-1). Although the good competition, many betters were still confident in the horse trained by future Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, and jockeyed by Hall of Famer “Big Money” Mike Smith.
Baffert, and Smith seeked to make Justify the 13th Triple Crown winner and that they did, and with the win Mike Smith, at 52 years old, became the oldest jockey to win a Triple Crown.
The third leg of the Triple Crown took place Saturday evening June 9th at Belmont Park, New York and it was one to remember. The dominant win for Justify took place two days after the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup, and one night after the Golden State Warriors swept the Cavs in the NBA Championship. As if we weren’t already gifted with a great sports week, Justify added to the championships with a Triple Crown.
The Belmont Stakes is a different animal compared to the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. The track that the horses run on at Belmont Park is a mile and a half, compared to the races at Churchill Downs and Pimlico which are both a mile long. A different strategy must be applied in this race to where the horses need to start their sprint down the home stretch. In the other two races the horses would start their final stretch sprint at a quarter through the last turn with 770 yards left. If they would start their sprint a quarter through the last turn at Belmont Park you still have 1,000 yards to go and your would run out of stamina.
Justify drew gate #1 which hurt him because he has to race tight to the rail the whole race and basically meant he had to start his final sprint after everyone else because he could get cut off by another horse. Patience is the key in Justify’s game plan.
Who needs a game plan. Justify lead the whole race around the first turn, down the first stretch, around the second turn, and down the final stretch no horse came within two lengths of him. It was domination at it’s finest. The only horse that finished close was #6 Gronkowski who had a lackluster start of the race 20 lengths behind Justify, he shot up and finished about two lengths back. We all learned that Justify didn’t benefit from the weather in the first two races it actually held him back as he showed how truly gifted, brilliant and just great he is.
Justify became the second horse ever to not lose a single race in his career to win the Triple Crown. Justify is also the only horse to win the Triple Crown while never racing as a two year old.
Churchill Downs is ready for Mike Smith, Bob Baffert, and Justify after the great run the trio had in the last six weeks. They achieved the most prized possession in the sport by being the thirteenth trio to win all three of the biggest races in horseracing (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes). With their names becoming household names, and signatures in record books, the trio completed lifelong dreams. As called by Larry Collmus Justify is, “Just perfect, and now just immortal!”