Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Justify leads wire to wire at Belmont to win the Triple Crown

Justify leads wire to wire at Belmont to win the Triple Crown

"He was showing me the same signs", Baffert said after Justify prevailed for the sixth time in a scant 111 days. Not all horses take well to running in mud, especially sloppy mud. "He's sent from heaven".

Despite drawing the rail, Justify went off as a 4-5 favorite and more than lived up to his billing.

Justify battled nine rivals, the largest number that a potential Triple Crown victor has ever faced. A lot of them he has already beaten, in either the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness, but there are a few new faces.

On an 80-degree day at Belmont Park, Justify was a cool customer.

That set up a familiar drama for the 1 ½-mile Belmont.

Instead, he powered to the front of the field on the sweeping Belmont track called "Big Sandy" and ran like a machine to the wire.

It will be the first time Justify runs on a dry track in the Triple Crown series.

Justify with jockey Mike Smith aboard wins the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, U.S., June 9, 2018. He was standing so still.

Justify began his racing career on February 18, a scant 77 days before the Kentucky Derby. He now holds the record with 15 wins in Triple Crown races, one more than D. Wayne Lukas. With the last Triple Crown just three years past, would casual sports fans embrace him as they had American Pharoah?

If Justify beats nine rivals in the 150th Belmont, Bob Baffert would become the second trainer to win the Triple Crown twice.

He's the second undefeated colt to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. There, colt-starter Toby Richard was clear from the very first day: written in bright orange marker on the dry-erase board were the words: "Goal: To help start the next Triple Crown victor".

"I'm feeling pretty in awe of the horse", Baffert said.

"Is he the next American Pharoah?".

Being that valuable might make it hard for the horse to get back on the track again, though ownership seemed optimistic after the win that it was possible. "This time around, it's a different vibe because we know it can be done".

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