Belmont Stakes: Justify wins Belmont to earn 13th Triple Crown in history

The horse was the star of the show, of course, but Justify had all the support he needed to become the 13th Triple Crown victor, which he did Saturday with his victory over second-place Gronkowski in the Belmont Stakes. It seems appropriate, since the race - which is 1.5 miles - requires horses to be ruthless and not give up a single furlong if they want to end up in the winner's circle. The late bloomer won the Belmont Stakes by 1 lengths on Saturday, giving the sport its 13th Triple Crown champion.

Coolmore also purchased breeding rights for 2015 Triple Crown victor, American Pharoah (for $10 million initially, though the deal was pushed to about $30 million with bonuses).

Enter American Pharoah, who effortlessly floated around the expansive Belmont Park oval in 2015, then turned for home and hit the gas, pulling away from the field to send the capacity crowd into a prolonged state of euphoria. The chestnut colt with a pronounced white blaze won on slop at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness; even on a faster track on a clear day at Belmont, his opponents couldn't outrun him. He trained American Pharoah in 2015 when the horse won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes in Baltimore and Belmont Stakes in NY after a 37-year Triple Crown dry spell for thoroughbred horse racing.

Justify and jockey Mike Smith have drawn gate 1, meaning that it will be an absolute must for the colt to have the same speed he has shown in previous starts, especially during the first quarter-mile. Justify and the last Triple Crown victor, American Pharoah, share a trainer in Bob Baffert. "I mean, they're a good combination and they got the job done". "Amazing. Just hope Eli Manning can do the same thing at 37". Experience has made him wiser, he said. The horse ran a great race.

Adding to Baffert's sentiment was Elliot Walden, CEO of WinStar Farm, one of Justify's owners.

Justify led for the entire race and completed the mile and a half in an unofficial time of 2 minutes 28.18 seconds. "We just feel really blessed to have his horse".

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"I'll never forget it", Baffert said.

Baffert said he was "in awe" of Pharoah when he won, and "in shock" seeing him win. To come so close in the Triple Crown. but we ran into a real buzz saw.

"A horse like this just kind of happens", Walden said, as he tried to describe the genesis of what Justify accomplished Saturday.

In the hours before the race, Justify rested in Belmont's Barn 1, across the street from a Wendy's, undistracted by the beer-soaked fans who reveled close by - including one who almost relieved himself on a tree.

Four months ago, only a select few people knew about Justify. "I think he's the greatest of all time", Smith said. Second unbeaten Triple Crown victor, just like the great Seattle Slew in 1977. Or, it will end in crushing disappointment, with a horse denying the Kentucky Derby and Preakness victor the coveted Triple Crown.

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