Triple Crown victor Justify

Triple Crown victor Justify

With the Belmont Stakes horse race slated for Saturday, the heavily favored Justify is looking to be the second Triple Crown victor in three years.

Next Saturday, Justify's owners, along with trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith, will receive their engraved Kentucky Derby trophies at Churchill.

ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell writes that Saturday's victory in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes pushed the value of Triple Crown victor Justify to an all-time record $75 million. He's 5-0, having raced for the first time on February 18.

The fashion scene at the Belmont Stakes is as diverse as NY itself.

Justify, right, ridden Mike Smith leads the field at the end of the backstretch during the Belmont Stakes horse race, Saturday, June 9, 2018, at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. Justify won the race, to claim horse racing's Triple Crown.

Smith says Justify is both smart and in great shape.

Like "Big Red", as Secretariat was lovingly called, Justify (an even bigger "Big Red", at 16.3 hands and 1,380 pounds, compared to a typical 1,100-pound thoroughbred), drew the No. 1 post.

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Baffert, 65, became the second trainer to win two Triple Crowns, joining the late James "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons, whose triumphs came in 1930 and '35 with Gallant Fox and Omaha, respectively. It had previously won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, which together make up horse racing's most sought-after title. From there, he reeled off consecutive Grade I wins in the April. 7 Santa Anita Derby, May 5 Kentucky Derby and May 19 Preakness S. Sales History: $500,000 yrl KEESEP '16. A talented but inexperienced colt, Hofburg finished second to Audible in the Florida Derby on March 31, which was his stakes debut.

"Fifty-two years old. Think about that accomplishment, winning a Triple Crown at 52 years old?"

The silver-haired Californian becomes only the second trainer to saddle more than one Triple Crown victor after "Sunny" Jim Fitzsimmons, who trained Gallant Fox and Omaha between the wars. But he (Justify) ran the whole mile and one half today, and he earned it (Triple Crown).

"Why would you send a horse that breaks bad and take everybody out, then come back in?" the jockey questioned.

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.

No Triple Crown victor has faced more than seven rivals in the Belmont, so Justify could be the first. If rain falls and turns it sloppy, Justify should feel right at home. "He even looked like he added a few pounds from the Preakness, I mean, this horse just recovers so amazingly quick". But he shot out with a fury, took a 11/2-length lead at the quarter pole and never let a challenger get closer than that.

An impressive feat for Baffert, racing's affable, most marketable two-legged star, for sure. Four of Justify's rivals have been resting since the Kentucky Derby a month ago: Free Drop Billy (16th), Hofburg (seventh), Noble Indy (17th) and Vino Rosso (ninth).

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