Justify dominates Belmont to become 13th Triple Crown victor

George Soros

Justify completed a dizzying rise to superstardom, one brilliantly orchestrated by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, when he won the Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets with a commanding 1 ¾-length victory against late-running Gronkowski on Saturday at Belmont Park.

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness victor is the early 4-5 favorite for Saturday's 11/2-mile Belmont, the longest and most grueling of the three-race series.

Justify became just the second horse, after Seattle Slew, to win it while still undefeated.

The trainer of both Justify and American Pharaoh becomes just the second to ever win the Triple Crown twice - "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons also did it twice, with Gallant Fox and Omaha in the 1930s. He did so with American Pharoah in 2015, ending a 37-year drought.

The chestnut colt, ridden by 52-year-old jockey Mike Smith, was first out of the gate and never gave up the lead.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

No chance. Between his imposing size and the way his chestnut coat glistens in the sun, Justify is hard to overlook, particularly with his muscular hind legs propelling him forward. Many owners and trainers hold back their horses from the Preakness.

Hofburg paid $3.70 to show. Justify and Bravazo will be the only horses to run in the Derby, Preakness and Belmont.

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

A week after his Belmont, American Pharoah paraded during Churchill's "Downs After Dark" race card headlined by the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap. So.

"It is what it is, and I'm really proud of his effort", said Brown, who voiced his frustration that the other jockeys in the race didn't challenge Justify on the front end.

Justify achieved one of the sports' toughest feats 45 years to the day that Secretariat won the Belmont by a record 31 lengths. "And I am so happy for Mike Smith".

Triple Crown winners are quite rare in thoroughbred racing.

Twelve out of the last 13 times the horse who won the Derby and Preakness lost the Belmont.

In winning the Kentucky Derby, Justify had lifted the so-called "curse of Apollo" in becoming the first horse since 1882 to win without having run as a two-year-old.

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