Justify 4/5 favorite to win Belmont, complete triple crown

Justify and jockey Mike Smith win the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes to complete the Triple Crown. Those were the words that Bob Baffert used several weeks ago about his Triple Crown victor Justify, who arrived in his barn last fall without having run a race as a 2-year-old, after running past a pulled muscle and minor knee surgery a year earlier.

At 6-0, he joins Seattle Slew in 1977 as the only two undefeated Triple Crown winners; he's the first to sweep the series without racing at age 2 (because of a pulled muscle); and he's the only horse to beat nine rivals in the Belmont with a Triple try on the line.

The Bob Baffert-trained horse followed his Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes wins in NY on Saturday.

Smith, at 52, is the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown.

'If said violation is without such effect upon the finish of the race, penalty therefore may be applied against the offender only'.

'Had I known better, the first eighth of a mile I would have thought it was a quarter-horse race, not the mile-and-a-half Belmont. Add in the tight schedule of three championship races in five weeks, and it's the most challenging of tasks for any horse. Gronkowski, named after the New England Patriots star, finished in second place, while Hofburg came in third. His Triple Crown victory was valued at an additional $15 million, which makes the deal now worth $75 million. What are the Triple Crown races?

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"The great ones", Baffert said after the race, "they just find another gear".

Like "Big Red", as Secretariat was lovingly called, Justify (an even bigger "Big Red", at 16.3 hands and 1,380 pounds, compared to a typical 1,100-pound thoroughbred), drew the No. 1 post. Baffert said he felt confident, not stressed, during the run-up to the race. "When I unloaded him the other day, those horses in that barn went nuts when they saw him". "When he was that far back early, I said to myself, 'This is not going to end well.' He's just so far back, and there are quality horses in front of him, and then I saw the fractions and said, 'How is this horse going to close?'" He's sent from heaven, it's just fantastic.

He had every reason to be thrilled that he had won the Triple Crown along with a legendary horse. "He's so gifted. He's sent from heaven, I tell you".

The viewing audience this year was down one-third from 2015 when American Pharoah ended a 37-year drought with his victory in the Belmont. I got very emotional, because I really think - I'm getting help upstairs.

The two Todd Pletcher-trained racers, Vino Rosso (+900) and Noble Indy (+2800), will break side-by-side from gates 8 and 9 respectively.

Baffert will saddle a second horse: 30-1 shot Restoring Hope.

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