Justify wins Belmont to become 13th Triple Crown champion

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

Justify became the 13th Triple Crown victor and first since American Pharoah in 2015 in today's running of the 150th Belmont Stakes, held in NY before 90,000 horseracing fans.

"Our focus was on each race as they came up", Walden said after unveiling Justify's Triple Crown banner inside Belmont Park.

The second-place finisher, who was named after New England Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski, rallied from the back of the pack to finish an impressive second, and Hofburg finished third.

Justify dominated the Derby last month but won the Preakness in a closer race two weeks later. The only other unbeaten Triple Crown victor was Seattle Slew in 1977.

After the horse won its first two races, he knew Justify was an awesome raw talent, capable of history.

American Pharaoh, a bay colt from a strong lineage of racers made history in 2015, when the horse won all three American races, the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, becoming just the 12th in history to do it!

Trainer Bob Baffert was overcome with emotion when discussing his second Triple Crown victor.

In the hours before the race, Justify rested in Belmont's Barn 1, across the street from a Wendy's, undistracted by the beer-soaked fans who reveled close by - including one who almost relieved himself on a tree. Baffert, head turned, watched his handiwork in HD with a small smile that refused go away. The horse ran a great race.

Bob Baffert became only the second trainer in history to win the Triple Crown twice. "We were just in there, watching the replay over and over, and it looked like he could have gone around again". "I think he's the greatest of all time", Smith said. The inaugural victor was a New York-bred filly named Ruthless.

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"He was showing me the same signs (as American Pharoah)", Baffert said of Justify.

Justify is the first Triple Crown victor to face that many rivals in Belmont. "But I said, I don't know, three is a good number". His most famous series of wins coming in 2015 with American Pharaoh. In that case, the last Triple Crown victor came when Jimmy Carter was in the second year of his Presidency, the Shah of Iran was still in power, and the Soviet Union still existed and had not yet launched what would become a disastrous war in Afghanistan, and Grease had not yet been released in theaters. Executives from the investment firm oversee the breeding and horse ownership businesses.

Earlier, Baffert and jockey Mike Smith teamed to win the $750,000 Ogden Phipps with Abel Tasman.

Justify opened his bid with a 2 ½-length victory on a sloppy track in the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby on May 5.

Justify led for the entire race and completed the mile and a half in an unofficial time of 2 minutes 28.18 seconds. Smith has seven Triple Crown race victories to his credit.

"He left there like he was going 440 (yards) at Ruidoso, N.M.", said Smith, a native of Roswell, N.M.

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

Trainer Todd Pletcher also has two horses in the field - 8-1 Vino Rosso and 30-1 Noble Indy.