Saturday, 18 August, 2018

Justify wins the Belmont Stakes and completes the Triple Crown

Justify and jockey Mike Smith led the pack at the Saturday Belmont Stakes race in New York Justify and jockey Mike Smith led the pack at the Saturday Belmont Stakes race in New York
Kristopher Love | 13 June, 2018, 10:21

A horse must win all three races to achieve the Triple Crown. So why would Notre Dame root for Justify and a Triple Crown?

"It's fantastic", said Baffert, who had Triple Crown near-misses with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002).

The Stephen Foster is the featured race on Churchill's final "Downs After Dark" card of the 2018 spring meet, and has drawn a probable field of eight older horses, including Alysheba victor Backyard Heaven.

Jockey Mike Smith (bottom right) was overjoyed after crossing the finish line with a healthy lead.

Yes, there's a possibility Justify could appear for fans Saturday during Churchill's "Downs After Dark" race card just as American Pharoah did after his Triple Crown sweep three years ago.

The jockey for Vinno Rosso, Hall of Famer John Velazquez, said he understood why Restoring Hope broke from usual form and credited Baffert for the strategy. "After a week, it starts catching up with them".

Justify is expected to be at Churchill Downs for about a week before flying to California and Baffert's base at Santa Anita.

Among the possibilities are the $1 million Haskell Invitational on July 29 at New Jersey's Monmouth Park, the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 18 and the $1.25 million Travers at Saratoga on August 25.

"We hope this entire group will be assembled again in late August in Saratoga", Kay said. His milestone run follows that of 2015 champion American Pharoah, also trained by Bob Baffert. "I'm not. I've had really good luck there".

"There's been tremendous buzz", track spokesman Darren Rogers said. "We were in the office watching the replay over and over. He's just that kind of horse". We're just so proud of him. He could make a curtain call Saturday at the track where he won the Kentucky Derby. Sent off as the 4-5 favorite, Justify ran the longest race of the series in 2:28.18 and paid $3.60, $3.50 and $2.80.

The victor is given a blanket of roses, so the race is also known as the "run for the roses". But now what? Has another "savior" of horse racing come and gone? He was managed so well by Bob and his staff.

"It is a tremendous honor for Keeneland to have sold racing's newest Triple Crown victor, Justify", Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said.

Baffert has been doing enough of that lately without him. Geroux can be seen looking around on the backstretch to check on the pursuers.

His human handlers also made history.

Justify's victory silenced the skeptics who believed the colt was due for a loss because of his rushed schedule and close result in the Preakness. "Oh, Mike. Don't empty that tank", Baffert said.