Justify, the first to win the Triple Crown after not having raced as a 2-year-old, owned Belmont from the moment he arrived on Wednesday. He also trained American Pharoah during his run to the record books in 2015.
Justify and jockey Mike Smith win the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes to complete the Triple Crown. Justify ended a three-year Triple Crown drought. After a handful of agonizing Triple Crown misses, he broke through with Pharoah, solidifying his legacy.
Justify led during the entire race, but Gronkoski miraculously finished in second place after being dead last early in the race. And he did it in the waning moments of a sun-splashed afternoon with a show of versatility, gliding over a dry, fast track that represented a far different test than the slop he'd slogged through at Churchill Downs and Pimlico Race Course.
Sent off as the 4-5 favorite, Justify ran the longest race of the series in 2:28.18 and paid $3.60, $3.50 and $2.80.
Smith, at 52-years-old, made history in the process by becoming the oldest jockey in history to win the Triple Crown. He's like Pharoah. They're superstars."Giants part-owner and Senior VP of player personnel Chris Mara, the father of actresses Rooney and Kate Mara, owns a partial stake in Justify, which joined Seattle Slew (1977) as the only other undefeated horse to win the Triple Crown".
Justify's victory gives racing its second Triple Crown victor of the decade. "He is a magnificent animal".
With Mike Smith replacing less experienced Drayden Van Dyke in the irons, Justify coasted by 6 ½ lengths in a March 11 allowance race before making the leap to Grade 1 competition in the Santa Anita Derby.
Diego Schwartzman stops game on set point to get ailing spectator help
Breaks were swapped twice in the first set before 25-year-old Schwartzman broke the Nadal serve for a third time to lead 5-4. In the second quarter-final Marin Cilic and Juan Martin Del Potro were locked together at 5-5 in a first-set tiebreak.
Give Troutt and Walden credit.
He was assigned odds of 12-1 on the morning line, and the snickering from handicappers began: How many people will wager on this horse just because of his name? "And I thought maybe, because I could see Gronkowski flying, but he just couldn't get to that horse".
Baffert had fretted after Justify drew the No. 1 post, a spot he detests for his horses. "I might get up the next day and go to the same donut shop and have a cup of coffee like I always do", Smith said with a laugh.
"This horse ran a tremendous race, he's so gifted", Smith said. He doesn't stand up and celebrate, he just lets the horse pull up properly. The lightly regarded Gronkowski, dead last through the first half-mile, fittingly played the role of lead disrupter. Their team was perceptive enough to buy a colt when nobody much was looking at him. Then jockey Mike Smith picked him up midway through the sweeping Belmont turn and nobody could catch him.
"Once they turned toward home, I felt at that point he'd hold anybody off who was coming".