Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Sports | By Toni Houston

Justify leads wire to wire at Belmont to win the Triple Crown

Justify leads wire to wire at Belmont to win the Triple Crown

Followed that win up with a narrow, half-length victory over Bravazo at the Preakness Stakes in sloppy conditions and thick fog before winning the final jewel of the Triple Crown on Saturday. He is only the second trainer in the sport's history to accomplish the feat, and he joined "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons, who trained Gallant Fox in 1930 and Omaha in 1935.

Baffert admitted that the sweet-natured American Pharoah will "always be my first love" but said Justify richly deserved his star's status. His shot at becoming the 13 Triple Crown victor came just 111 days into his career.

This year's Belmont Stakes has turned into one of the most anticipated horse racing events in decades, as racehorse Justify tries to take the Triple Crown. It's the pinnacle of a career that has seen him win more than 5,400 races, including a record 26 in the Breeders' Cup, and now seven Triple Crown races.

Of course, the Haskell was also close to home for Zayat Stables, which campaigned Pharoah, and Baffert has mentioned the race already as a target for his other top 3-year-old, McKinzie.

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Going beyond Justify and his Triple Crown win, NFL Twitter was all over the race's second-place finisher.

Justify drew the No. 1 post, and while that would have been an issue in the crowded 20-horse field at Churchill Downs, it was not a problem at Belmont Park.

Gronkowski finished second in the race. The great Secretariat ended a 25-year drought in 1973 in record fashion, then, four years later, Seattle Slew came along to put his flawless stamp on the feat. "He's sent from heaven, I tell you". "And I was nearly in tears, it's such an emotional experience", he said. He could hardly believe the acceleration he felt underneath him when he asked the big horse to make a move midway through a 6 ½-length victory.

"It's just incredible", said Baffert, his voice hitching. He managed to hold off Restoring Hope, a longshot (also owned by Baffert) who pulled into second early on and a late push from Brovazo. 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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