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

ImageJustify ridden by Mike Smith began his Triple Crown bid by winning the Kentucky Derby on May

A flop at the track might make Coolmore, whose USA business Ashford Stud also has American Pharoah's breeding rights, more cool on a Triple Crown winner's stock.

Smith, at 52-years-old, made history in the process by becoming the oldest jockey in history to win the Triple Crown.

The forecast calls for a high of 80 degrees and cloudy skies. A crowd capped at 90,000 is expected for a chance to witness history.

According to Sports Illustrated, Baffert and Smith had partnered in 2002 on the horse Vindication. "This year we are prepared to handle up to 48,000 riders if necessary". Owners, fans and even rival trainers stopped by to sneak a peek at the undefeated victor of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. Two weeks later, he survived a challenge in the Preakness, winning by a half-length, again in the slop to set up a Triple Crown try.

He ran the longest race of the series in 2 minutes 28.18 seconds and paid $3.60, $3.50, and $2.80. As he crossed the finish line, the race caller exclaimed, "American Pharoah is finally the one!" For horses used to training and running at shorter distances it can be like asking them to start over doing something completely different.

Smith let Justify roll through a first quarter in:23.37, then subtly eased up the tempo to mark the half-mile in:48.11. He got a wide trip in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and by some accounts, should have been awarded Horse of the Year based on his previous races.

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There were mild bids turning for home. "A bit of the greenness came out today, but he was also pushed today early on". Not all horses take well to running in mud, especially sloppy mud.

It's not hard for me to imagine Justify losing his dominant cruising speed for the final lengths of the race and getting caught at the wire. He'll have nine horses to contend with.

The two Todd Pletcher-trained racers, Vino Rosso (+900) and Noble Indy (+2800), will break side-by-side from gates 8 and 9 respectively. May the best horse win! The most rested entry is Gronkowski, having last run on March 30 in England.

Gronkowski finished second in the race.

The first horse to load in the gate, Justify stayed so still and steady as the other nine followed suit that Smith anxious for a moment that he might not break at all.

At the Belmont hanging with Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and Winstar Farms owner Kenny Troutt and his wife Lisa. 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. His performance in the 1973 race set a standard that has yet to be matched. But just three years after American Pharoah reset the clock with his majestic performance at Belmont, the precocious, musclebound Justify shoved his way into thoroughbred racing's most glorified club.

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