Lucky 13th Triple Crown had by Baffert's Justify

Hope Soto
June 14, 2018

Baffert came into the year with 12 Triple Crown race wins before tying James "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons for second place with Justify's victory at the Kentucky Derby and then tying Lukas last month the Preakness.

The first 5,000 fans will receive a Justify Triple Crown commemorative print. Walden, Baffert, co-owner representative China Horse Club, Starlight Racing and Head of Plains Partners, jockey Mike Smith and breeder John Gunther will be present to receive engraved Kentucky Derby 144 trophies.

Justify, the latest star, made Funny Cide's accomplishments seem nearly ordinary, having broken the "Apollo Curse" to become the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve without racing at age 2 since 1882. Before Justify returned to Churchill Downs, where he trained for the Triple Crown races, he was met with plenty of cameras at Belmont Park in the day following his win June 9.

The big, chestnut colt stood above the other horses with a commanding lead all the way through the homestretch Saturday in Elmont, N.Y. It was only his sixth race, and some bettors had anxious that he packed too many races into the 110 days leading up to the race, but it was no contest.

This means that the decade of the 2010s has given us Frankel, the best horse in many generations in Europe (except of course for perhaps...yes Dancing Brave of 1986), American Pharoah, Arrogate and now Justify in the United States.

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

Justify won the Kentucky Derby by 2 1/2 lengths and the Preakness by a half-length on sloppy tracks, putting him in position to deliver a second Triple Crown in four years to the struggling sport.

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness victor is the early 4-5 favorite for Saturday's 1 ½-mile Belmont, the longest and most grueling of the three-race series. Breaking from the less-than-desired No. 1 post, Smith gunned Justify to the lead and never looked back.

So far Justify has answered every question asked of him, and answered it well.

"The raw talent is there", Baffert said.

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"Just so blessed that this happened", he told broadcaster NBC. "A Triple Crown victor is rare enough; an undefeated Triple Crown victor is rarer still". "He's so gifted. He's sent from heaven".

Justify's victory gives racing its second Triple Crown victor of the decade.

While Justify has a strong pedigree of his own, "you can't say he's Secretariat-safe", Zito said.

Smith got the colt into a relaxed rhythm under a moderate pace heading into the backstretch, and he had an easy trip from there.

There were mild bids turning for home.

Justify ran a strong race about 90 percent of the way, but dragged some down the final stretch.

"[This horse] was showing me the same signs [as American Pharoah], he showed me that same brilliance".

The horse named for a certain tight end competed in Belmont Stakes this weekend, and he wasn't the only wasn't the only Gronk in NY.

Vino Rosso finished fourth, followed by Tenfold, Bravazo, Free Drop Billy, Restoring Hope, Blended Citizen and Noble Indy.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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