Gronkowski Unlikely Runner-Up in Belmont Stakes

Justify

After a sun-filled day of races, an ominous cloud cover settled over Belmont Park right as Justify and the rest of the field entered the starting gate, setting the drama for the 90,327 people in attendance. Secretariat ended the longest previous Triple Crown drought of 25 years in 1973 in winning the Belmont by an astonishing 31 lengths.

In any case, congratulations to jockey Mark Smith, trainer Bob Baffert, who is only the second trainer to win two Triple Crowns, and, obviously to the horse that did most of the work.

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.

Justify accomplished a lot in a very short time. "But if you win the Triple Crown you become a legend and that is what he is now".

Turning for home full of running, he looked to have all his rivals toiling, although the ex-Jeremy Noseda-trained Gronkowski - a victor at Newcastle in March - ran an unbelievable race to be second, having trailed the field by some distance from the stalls. In 2015, Baffert won with American Pharoah, the last horse to capture the title. When Geroux broke next to last I would have thought that was a great scenario, he doesn't have to worry about him.

If Justify remains healthy and sound, Baffert will have plenty of options to map out his summer and fall campaign, with the obvious goal being the Breeders' Cup Classic on November 3 at Churchill. Mara said of Smith.

Justify has won all six of his races.

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Not since Seattle Slew has a horse managed to enter the Triple Crown ideal and exit it without a defeat.

ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell writes that Saturday's victory in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes pushed the value of Triple Crown victor Justify to an all-time record $75 million. He defeated a deep crop, faced more horses in his three legs than any previous Triple Crown victor. "He's now become a household name, and I'm looking forward to his next race just as much as you guys are". He's sent from heaven, it's just wonderful.

Mike Smith is hoping to win another Belmont Stakes - and help take the Triple Crown in the process.

"It baffled me", Mike Repole, who owns fellow competitors Vino Rosso and Noble Indy, said, per David Grening of Daily Racing Form.

Jockey Jose Ortiz rode the rail through the final turn of the 1 1/2-mile test, angled out, and loomed behind Justify, ready to break plenty of hearts.

John Velazquez, who finished in fourth place on Vino Rosso, also saw the move as questionable.

Justify held off a late-charge from Gronkowski, named after Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowskim, the the Giants beat in Super Bowl XLVI.

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