Friday, 19 October, 2018

Southern Illinois Man Hopes to Win Triple Crown with Justify

Justify Could Win the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes But It's a Long Shot. Here's Why Only 12 horses have won the Triple Crown in 150 yearsMore
Domingo Copeland | 10 June, 2018, 06:30

The late bloomer won the Belmont Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths on Saturday, giving the sport its 13th Triple Crown champion and second in four years.

Thirty-five horses have gone into the Belmont with a chance to win the Triple Crown but only 12 have completed the feat, with American Pharoah being the most recent in 2015.

Justify, bred by Langley, B.C.'s John Gunther, took the Belmont Stakes by one-and-three quarter lengths today on Saturday.

The New Mexico native won 15 Grade 1 races in 2017, including nine with Bob Baffert, the trainer of Justify and now a two-time Triple Crown victor. American Pharoah ended a 37-year drought in 2015.

Justify's jockey, Mike Smith, has called Belmont one of his favorite tracks and is confident that he Justify will come out on top. A lot of them he has already beaten, in either the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness, but there are a few new faces.

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? Baffert had joked earlier in the week that, with luck, the jockeys who had their sights set on beating Justify might get confused by the change.

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"I think he'll run big", Smith said.

The latest Triple Crown victor in the horse racing world has a connection to central Pennsylvania, according to a report from Central Penn Business Journal.

Baffert's other Belmont contender - long shot Restoring Hope - surprised out of the gate by sticking in second place before Gronkowski, the European star named after New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, pulled into the No. 2 spot. Though it served Secretariat well, it posed a concern for Baffert, who anxious his muscular colt might get pinned against the rail if he didn't break well.

Ultimately, Gronkowski flattened out and finished second, 1 3/4 lengths back, but he came in another 1 3/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher Hofburg.

As we reported in our Kentucky Derby story, though, the owner of the horse winning the Triple Crown can make far more money in stud fees than just from prize money.

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