‘Justify’ Finishes First in Belmont Stakes

‘Justify’ Finishes First in Belmont Stakes

"He's just that kind of horse".

The muscular horse is 1,268 pounds, more than 100 pounds more than American Pharoah, the Baffert-trained horse that won the Triple Crown in 2015, and stands at 16.3 hands high, slightly taller than American Pharoah.

Fans streamed into Belmont Park on Saturday in anticipation of watching Justify try to become the second Triple Crown victor since 2015.

The forecast calls for a slight chance of late-day rain with a high near 80 at the scheduled post of 6:46 p.m. ET. The crowd has been capped at 90,000.

The internet, naturally, had plenty to say about the racing history being made. "He's so gifted he's sent from heaven", Smith said of Justify, who was the 4/5 favorite. "This year we are prepared to handle up to 48,000 riders if necessary".

Justify's run in the Kentucky Derby was convincing enough to scare off a few opposing owners and trainers from the Preakness.

He ran the longest race of the series in 2 minutes 28.18 seconds and paid $3.60, $3.50, and $2.80. That distance isn't widely raced in North America and it calls for a combination of stamina and speed. And they come in short order. Often it's the final quarter-mile that does in a contender. Belmont Park's deep, sandy surface can prove tiring, too.

There were mild bids turning for home. Not all horses take well to running in mud, especially sloppy mud.

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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. He'll have nine horses to contend with.

A sore heel a day after that victory raised brief concerns, but two weeks later Justify dug deep at fog-shrouded Pimlico to claim the 1 3/16-mile Preakness. The second-, third-, and fourth-place finishers get between $100,000 to $280,000, and smaller amounts are handed out to the rest of the top eight.

Trainer Todd Pletcher also had two horses in the field - 8-1 Vino Rosso and 30-1 Noble Indy. Coming off a three-week break is Blended Citizen.

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?

At that point, Gronkowski was charging from the back of the pack, and he was able to run a stellar race and finish second.

No chance. Between his imposing size and the way his chestnut coat glistens in the sun, Justify is hard to overlook, particularly with his muscular hind legs propelling him forward. So, even if you aren't typically a horse racing fan, you might want to tune in to see if history is made.

Baffert credited his team of assistants for doing an outstanding job of preparing Justify for the grueling three-race, five-week grind.

ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: Jockey Mike Smith celebrates atop of Justify #1 the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018 in Elmont, New York.

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