Owners: Triple Crown winner Justify will race again

Doug Mendoza
June 13, 2018

The late bloomer won the 150th Belmont Stakes in NY by 1¾ lengths on Saturday, leading all the way to give the sport its 13th Triple Crown champion. It seems appropriate, since the race - which is 1.5 miles - requires horses to be ruthless and not give up a single furlong if they want to end up in the winner's circle.

Vino Ross was the second-place horse when the race entered the stretch on Saturday, getting up to Justify's flank.

The unbelievable comet that is Justify proved that, bursting on the scene to win the Kentucky Derby, surviving the fog to win the Preakness, then leading wire-to-wire over the mile-and-a-half on Saturday to become just the sport's 13th Triple Crown champion. The horse needs to win the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes on June 9 to earn the top horse racing prize.

American Pharoah was the last horse to make history in 2015, ending a 37 year gap since Affirmed won in 1978. The last horse to accomplish the feat was American Pharoah in 2015. Justify began his racing career on February 18, a scant 77 days before the Derby.

Concern over Justify's No. 1 position was eliminated right away, as Smith recalled the start. 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.

"But they all ran well, but that's all you can ask for, that your horses do well, but they still have to show up".

"I'd like to see John win the race!" He stood so quietly in the starting gate that jockey Mike Smith wondered if he'd respond when it sprang open. Only a great horse could have done it.

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Depending where you look, pundits are either shaken by what feels like a wave of momentum against Justify or they're disregarding all that fear and identifying Justify as one of the most gifted 3-year-old horses of all time. "He's just that kind of horse".

He was assigned odds of 12-1 on the morning line, and the snickering from handicappers began: How many people will wager on this horse just because of his name? Justify becomes the thirteenth Triple Crown victor and the first since American Pharoah in 2015.

Baffert said he was "in awe" of Pharoah when he won, and "in shock" seeing him win. So any horse that wins all three passes a threshold of speed, strength, and just plain grit. He's been 5-0 in his brief career, and now he's ready for a chance at a Triple Crown.

"Everybody thinks I'm so opposed to Saratoga", he said.

"My thought turning for home was that he had a shot to get him if Justify was vulnerable at a mile and a half", said Gronkowski's trainer, Chad Brown, who took over the care of Phoenix Thoroughbreds' colt from Jeremy Noseda in May.

Justify's Preakness win got him one step closer to the most coveted win in racing back in May. Seattle Slew was unbeaten when he won the Triple Crown in 1977.

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