Sunday, 17 June, 2018

Triple Crown victor Justify returns to Churchill Downs for a victory lap

Belmont Stakes 2018: Betting odds, picks, favorites Bob Baffert horse Restoring Hope accused of blocking for Justify
Kristopher Love | 13 June, 2018, 10:22

Unbeaten in his six races, Justify is expected to walk the shed row for at least a few days under supervision by assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes.

Horse Club International, WinStar Farm, Starlight Racing and Head of Plains Partners' undefeated Justify, who sold at Keeneland's 2016 September Yearling Sale for $500,000, became Thoroughbred racing's 13th Triple Crown victor when he scored a front-running victory in Saturday's 150th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) at Belmont Park.

May 19, 2018 - Justify, ridden by Mike Smith, wins the 143rd Preakness.

"Pharoah made so many people feel good", Baffert said.

He told reporters he had an easy ride. But the horses slowed down the back stretch and Baffert liked what he saw on the timer at the half-mile pole. "I would have thought Baffert would have wanted Restoring Hope nowhere close to the pace".

"Standard procedure has the three stewards closely monitor the race as it is being run and to review the race on digital format in instances where the stewards themselves have concern or when an objection is leveled by jockeys or trainers competing in the event", a spokesman for the New York State Gaming Commission said in a statement released to The Post on Monday.

"I was just watching the clock".

Belmont Stakes 2018: Betting odds, picks, favorites

"I was like, 'Oh, Mike".

Preparations at Churchill Downs include posting new signs on trainer Bob Baffert's barn 33 that identify Justify as the 2018 Triple Crown victor just below the 2015 sign for American Pharoah.

"Opinions die", Baffert said. He captured the first in 2:28.18. He refused comparisons between the two horses, saying they are different types of racers.

Justify's victory moved Baffert past D. Wayne Lukas to become the winningest trainer in Triple Crown races with 15.

Justify, who cross the finish 1¾ lengths in front of 24-1 longshot and Keeneland sales graduate Gronkowski, is the 20 Belmont victor produced by Keeneland sales. NBC Sports Network will broadcast from 8:30-10 p.m. ET with Churchill running its Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap, a "Win and You're In" race toward the Breeders' Cup Classic in November. Only Seattle Slew in 1977 was also undefeated when he won the Triple Crown.

Gronkowski, named for the National Football League player, finished second, after having been last for the first half of the race.