Justify bidding for rare Triple Crown sweep in Belmont

Justify bidding for rare Triple Crown sweep in Belmont

Justify won the Belmont Stakes in NY on Saturday to claim USA thoroughbred racing's coveted Triple Crown, becoming just the second horse to achieve the feat since 1978 and the 13th overall.

Starting out of the No. 1 post, jockey Mike Smith navigated Justify from the rail through a field of nine challengers to give trainer Bob Baffert his second Triple Crown victor in the past four years. Now, it's Justify. The horse, ridden by jockey Mike Smith is a ideal 6 for 6 in his racing career.

The 24-1 long-shot Gronkowski battled from the back of the pack to cross the line second, nearly two length's behind Justify, while the 5-1 Hofburg finished third.

That mantle will rest lightly on the shoulders of Justify as he becomes only the second colt in the history of the Triple Crown to go into - and come out of - the Belmont undefeated.

"You can't doubt him now, there's no way", said Bill Mott, trainer of third-place Hofburg. The question is how many races he'll have between now and then.

Justify's stunning rise puts him in the pantheon of great horses.

Even so, Justify enjoyed a dry track on Saturday and led the race from start to finish.

"It never gets old", Baffert said.

So when American Pharoah won the Triple Crown, the hoards of joyous horse racing fans shook Belmont Park, right outside New York City, to its core.

There was some show of competition from the other horses. He's just a big, tough horse. He'll run 1 1/2 miles around Belmont's sweeping oval Saturday with nine rivals gunning to keep history from happening.

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

The last horse to win the Triple Crown was American Pharaoh, who accomplished the feat in 2015.

Horse racing's latest superstar will attempt to become the 13th Triple Crown victor in U.S. Thoroughbred racing and he has a great chance to accomplish the feat. It could have been a whole different story for us if Justify wasn't here, but he was, and you've got to run against everybody. "I think I see a lot of resemblance in these two, the way they move".

Justify will attempt to join previous Triple Crown winners later this evening when he runs in the 2018 Belmont Stakes.

In addition to the 12 Triple Crown winners, a host of historic names have graced the Belmont Stakes winner's circle draped in the blanket of carnations.

Last year, Baffert won four races with Mor Spirit (Metropolitan Handicap), Abel Tasman (Acorn), American Anthem (Woody Stephens) and West Coast (Easy Goer). More than $10 million was bet on the race.

Justify opened his bid with a 2 ½-length victory on a sloppy track in the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby on May 5.

The weather in the NY area on Saturday is expected to be on the warmer side, with highs in the upper 70s.

Justify is coming off a grueling schedule, winning six races in 111 days.

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