Justify owner Walden sees Baffert as maybe best all time

Aubrey Yates
June 13, 2018

Justify won the Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets by 1 ¾ lengths on June 9 at Belmont Park to complete a sweep of the USA classic races and become the 13th Triple Crown victor in US racing history. "But I was like, 'The race ain't over, you know?' And then he's getting closer and closer and all of a sudden he is fourth, third, second, and I just started going ballistic".

Vino Ross was the second-place horse when the race entered the stretch on Saturday, getting up to Justify's flank.

In America, the idea of the Triple Crown being duplicated came when the Preakness, the Kentucky Derby, and the Belmont Stakes reached such prominence as to overshadow all other Spring 3-year-old events in this country. So when American Pharoah won the Triple Crown, the hoards of joyous horse racing fans shook Belmont Park, right outside New York City, to its core.

American Pharoah was the last horse to win all three races in 2015. American Pharoah was in that invincible category until he lost the Travers Stakes in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., two months after winning the Belmont.

Hot on the heels of his wins in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, the unbeaten Bob Baffert-trained three-year-old passed the so-called "Test of the Champion" in the mile-and-a-half Belmont with flying colours.

"When you're standing in the winner's circle in the Derby there's nothing like it, but this is kind of cool because I'm a New Yorker, it's a little special".

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

The biggest concern as Justify lined by for his try at history was his inside post position.

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Just 12 horses have swept the Triple Crown, one of the rarest feats in sports.

Smith, who kept looking at the replay of his own performance while fielding questions from the media, admitted that he was anxious about how calm Justify stood in the gate.

Justify is a product of a mare Gunther owns, and was bred at his Glennwood Farm in Versailles, KY. Justify was the first colt to win the Derby without racing as 2-year-old in 136 years.

Justify proved more than ready for the task, as he broke quickly from the No. 1 post position and went right to the lead.

"He's just faster than these horses", Smith said succinctly and accurately.

"I was really happy with way he got away from there", jockey Mike Smith said. "It's the longest, quickest journey we've ever been on". "I think he's the greatest of all time".

Justify reached full speed at midstretch, and it was clear he would win the race and earn the Triple Crown. Back in NY where he dominated in the 1990s, Smith took Justify on a walk past the packed grandstand, soaking in the cheers and giving the crowd a closer look at racing's newest hero. When Sir Batton "won" the Triple Crown in 1919, the term was not even used yet.

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