Justify wins Belmont Stakes, captures esteemed Triple Crown

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

Justify, trained by Bob Baffert, became the 13th thoroughbred to win horse racing's Triple Crown, finishing first at the Belmont Stakes in Elmont, New York, on Saturday.

Justify is only the second horse since 1978 to earn the Triple Crown, widely considered the greatest accomplishment in thoroughbred racing, which comes from winning three high-profile USA races: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. Baffert's 15 Triple Crown win overall moved him ahead of D.

"I think he'll run big", Smith said. That horse's first crop hasn't even raced yet.

Smith said: "This horse is so gifted - he's sent from heaven".

How Much Money Does the Triple Crown Winner Get?

The chestnut colt burst onto the national scene with a 2 1/2 -length victory on a sloppy track in the Derby.

With the human Rob Gronkowski in attendance, the horse Gronkowski put together the most unexpected performance of the race.

With a little less than 30 minutes to go until the Belmont Stakes, two trucks are watering the dirt strip at Belmont Park.

The purse for the race is $1.5 million.

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Baffert had steadily compared Justify to American Pharoah and was not surprised that Justify followed American Pharoah's lead with the same emphatic style of victory - wire to wire.

Justify was the morning line favorite to win the Belmont Stakes.

Justify went off as a prohibitive 3-5 favorite and paid $3.60, $3.50 and $2.80, becoming the first ever Triple Crown victor to defeat nine opponents at Belmont. He was standing so still. "I thought maybe, because I could see Gronkowski flying, but he just couldn't get to that horse".

Justify began his career in mid February, capturing a maiden race at Santa Anita before adding an allowance event at that venue a week shy of one month later.

The Mt. Vernon native owns Winstar Farms in Kentucky and has had horses win all three of horseracing's Triple Crown races, just never in the same year.

The New Mexico native won 15 Grade 1 races in 2017, including nine with Bob Baffert, the trainer of Justify and now a two-time Triple Crown victor.

As the drought dragged on, Baffert had reason to know how hard it was to achieve the feat.

Gronkowski had never raced on dirt, had never raced farther than a mile, qualified but didn't run in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) because he spiked a fever, switched trainers before the race, and only had two published works ahead of the most hard start of his career. "In the modern day we don't get in a rush with these horses", Baffert told USA Today days before the Derby. "It's very emotional for me".

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