Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Justify becomes 2nd undefeated horse to win Triple Crown

ImageJustify ridden by Mike Smith began his Triple Crown bid by winning the Kentucky Derby on May ImageJustify ridden by Mike Smith began his Triple Crown bid by winning the Kentucky Derby on May
Cassandra Castillo | 12 June, 2018, 11:10

Sixteen weeks ago, no one knew what to make of Justify - except Hall of Fame horse racing trainer Bob Baffert.

"But we ran into a buzzsaw, an incredible horse, a rare horse and that's the way it went". However, some other figures closely associated with that race are expressing unhappiness with how it unfolded, specifically with how a second Baffert-trained horse may have provided Justify with undue help.

Ridden by Mike Smith, 52, Justify is only the second undefeated runner to win the Triple Crown, after the great Seattle Slew in 1977, with Baffert the second trainer to achieve the feat twice.

"Give them the credit", said Baffert of WinStar. Breaking from the less-than-desired No. 1 post, Smith gunned Justify to the lead and never looked back.

There was some show of competition from the other horses. The Belmont Stakes are named after August Belmont I, the first president of the American Jockey Club, according to Newsday. Turning for home I could see Gronk flying and at that point thought we had a shot to get him if Justify was vulnerable at a mile and one half.

"At first I was like, 'Dang, we're in last place by like 15 yards, '" Rob Gronkowski told The Boston Globe. Restoring Hope spent much of the race just behind the eventual victor and to his outside, though never passed him. When he wanted Justify to run fast he would squeeze him, and when he wanted Justify to relax and fall into a rhythm, the jockey would move his hands down.

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Justify has won the Triple Crown.

Restoring Hope, which finished eighth under jockey Florent Geroux, broke out of the gate a few paces behind the leaders but quickly made up ground, bursting forward through the middle of the pack as Justify stayed in front while close to the rail. "Oh, Mike. Don't empty that tank", Baffert said.

Baffert won his first Triple Crown in 2015 with American Pharoah, ending a 37-year drought. He refused comparisons between the two horses, saying they are different types of racers.

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.

There was one horse, however, who was a threat to Justify's Triple Crown bid at the top of the Belmont Park stretch. If he pulls it off, he'll become the 13th thoroughbred in history to do so and only the second since 1978 when American Pharoah took the title in 2015.

Justify, who is 6-0 and is the first horse to sweep the series without racing at age 2, beat nine others to win - more competition than any other Triple Crown victor has beaten in the Belmont.

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