Ready for a Triple Crown effort at Belmont NEP’s John Roché and NBC Sports Group’s Keith Kice and Tim Dekime
10 June, 2018, 04:54
With the win, Bob Baffert became just the second trainer to win the Triple Crown twice. Once the horses come out of the final turn, they've still got a 1,097-yard (1,003 meters) run through the stretch, exhausting for a horse with little or no gas left in the tank. Would Justify fall victim to the fatigue and bad luck that had marked 13 failed Triple Crown bids between 1978 and 2015? He did so with American Pharoah in 2015, ending a 37-year drought. Baffert is the second trainer to have multiple Triple Crown champions.
Baffert, 65, had less than a year to train Justify who suffered a minor injury and didn't race his second year. The biggest threat to Justify's chances in the 10-horse field is Hofburg, who has 9/2 odds. Jockey John Velazquez asked his Curlin colt to go on the attack, but he could only get to the pacesetter's hip.
I'm not sure if I'll be betting on Justify to win yet, but I know I'll be rooting for him.
John Velazquez was already asking Vino Rosso for more run nearing the quarter pole, while Smith had yet to even loosen his reins on Justify.
At 52, Smith became the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown. Seventy-six days later, he won the Kentucky Derby, the first horse to do so without having run as a 2-year-old since Apollo in 1882. His other accomplishments include two Kentucky Derby wins, two Preaknesswins and three Belmont wins as well as more than two dozen victories in the Breeders' Cup.
Justify becomes the thirteenth Triple Crown victor and the first since American Pharoah in 2015.
For Justify, being one of the finest athletes of our time will have to do.
"I can't describe the emotions going through my body right now", he continued. He followed it up with a half-length win in the slop in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness on May 19. The 7-year-old bay horse won by 2 1/4 lengths and paid $9.10 to win - a generous price on a Baffert trainee.