Justify Captures Triple Crown With Win at Belmont


Justify led all the way to win the Belmont Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths on Saturday and become horse racing's 13th Triple Crown champion and second in four years.

Crowned racing's 13th victor of the Triple Crown, the undefeated Justify returned to Churchill Downs's Barn 33 on Monday afternoon.

Justify defied the hard post position along the rail, breaking well and taking the lead within seconds.

A 37-1 longshot, Restoring Hope held the inside edge in second place for much of the race before eventually falling back to eighth.

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The jockey for Vinno Rosso, Hall of Famer John Velazquez, said he understood why Restoring Hope broke from usual form and credited Baffert for the strategy. Galloping through fractions of 23.37 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 48.11 for the half, 1:13.21 for three quarters and 1:38.09 for the mile, Justify entered the far turn without having been asked for run, still two lengths clear of his stablemate and closest rival, with Bravazo hanging on in third.

Mike Repole, co-owner of horses that finished fourth and last in Saturday's Belmont Stakes, told the New York Post on Sunday he hopes stewards will look into the tactics used by the jockey for the "other" horse trained by Bob Baffert. "I would have thought Baffert would have wanted Restoring Hope nowhere close to the pace".

"Well, here we are, back at Churchill", said Jimmy Barnes, Justify's assistant trainer.

Justify, who cross the finish 1¾ lengths in front of 24-1 longshot and Keeneland sales graduate Gronkowski, is the 20 Belmont victor produced by Keeneland sales.

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"It's been the longest, quickest journey", a hoarse-sounding Baffert said as light rain fell outside Justify's barn.

According to NY state gaming commission regulations: 'If any horses trained by the same trainer race uncoupled in any race, and one or more of them shall be disqualified for violation of the rules of racing, any other horses entered by that same trainer shall also be disqualified if in the judgment of the stewards such violation prevented any other horse or horses from finishing ahead of the other part of the entry. Maybe the horse was completely out of control and Florent had no choice. "Oh, Mike. Don't empty that tank", Baffert said. He has won all six races he has run this year.

Bob Baffert became the second trainer to win the Triple Crown twice.

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