Justify wins Belmont to become 13th Triple Crown champion

Justify wins Belmont to become 13th Triple Crown champion

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

All that remained was to prove that he had the toughness and resolve to conquer the longest, most grueling leg of the Triple Crown. Questions about his stamina deepened at the Preakness, where he exhausted over another muddy track and held on to win by ½ a length. Many owners and trainers hold back their horses from the Preakness. The Belmont Stakes purse, which is split among the top finishers, now comes to a total of $1.5 million.

"I've never had a horse work like him", Baffert said of Justify earlier this week. Justify and Slew are the only two horses to enter and win the Triple Crown as undefeated racers.

"This horse ran a tremendous race, he's so gifted, " said Mike Smith, who at 52 is the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown. "So, we'll take him on and see what happens". He was standing so still.

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"He's brilliant. He was so still in the gate I thought he might not break but he left so fast it was like he was going to go 440 yards!"

Justify is 5-0 in a career that began with his first race in February.

However, prior to American Pharoah's victory, the last Triple Crown victor had taken place in 1978 when Affirmed won all three races. The great Secretariat ended a 25-year drought in 1973 in record fashion, then, four years later, Seattle Slew came along to put his ideal stamp on the feat.

With Justify's victory, Bob Baffert became the second trainer to win the Triple Crown twice.

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The Bob Baffert-trained horse followed his Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes wins in NY on Saturday. In 2014, a Peter Pan victor, Tonalist, squelched California Chrome's Triple Crown bid.

"I'm grateful to have a horse like this, to have the opportunity to be here, to make history like this is an incredible feeling", Baffert said. "It's very emotional for me".

"First and foremost, I want to thank my lord and savior, Jesus Christ, for blessing me with this wonderful day". "We knew he was brilliant from day one".

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