Before the Belmont, which Justify won by 13/4 lengths over surprise second-place finisher Gronkowski, the massive chestnut colt with the white blaze had won the Kentucky Derby by 21/2 lengths. It marks the third time since 2014 that a horse and jockey has a chance to win the Triple Crown, though American Pharoah in 2015 was the last team to accomplish the feat. 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. Baffert's 15 Triple Crown win overall moved him ahead of D.
Gronkowski, named for the National Football League player, finished second, having been last for much of the race.More news: Former Ark City PD chief living in Guatemala safe after volcanic eruption
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
He is owned by China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing & WinStar Farm and was sired by Scat Daddy, who won the Champagne Stakes and the Florida Derby. Justify reported home two lengths in front of that rival, with Hofburg (Tapit) rounding out the trifecta.
Darren Rogers, spokesman for Churchill Downs, tweeted after the Belmont that Justify would return there on Monday afternoon. When Justify ran the first quarter-mile in:23.37, Gronkowski was 14 3/4 lengths behind the leader and eight lengths behind Free Drop Billy, who raced ninth in the 10-horse field.More news: More Breast Cancer Patients Can Skip Chemo - Gene Test
Twelve out of the last 13 times the horse who won the Derby and Preakness lost the Belmont. And when they questioned Justify's grueling workload - five races in three months, with the Belmont his sixth in less than four months - Baffert said his horse was tough enough to handle it.
"Mike Smith is far from the biggest athlete at 5'4" and 114 pounds.
Some had wondered whether the colt might show signs of fatigue following a busy schedule but that was not the case as he broke from his number one post position and was never seriously challenged by any of the other nine horses.More news: Lowest price ever for Echo Show at Amazon
In winning the Kentucky Derby, Justify had lifted the so-called "curse of Apollo" in becoming the first horse since 1882 to win without having run as a two-year-old.
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