The forecast calls for a high of 80 degrees and cloudy skies. The crowd was capped at 90,000. Owners, fans and even rival trainers stopped by to sneak a peek at the undefeated victor of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. He became the first thoroughbred to win the Kentucky Derby without racing as a two-year-old since 1882, aka the Chester Arthur administration. The 7-year-old bay horse won by 2 1/4 lengths and paid $9.10 to win - a generous price on a Baffert trainee. That distance isn't widely raced in North America and it calls for a combination of stamina and speed. Often it's the final quarter-mile that does in a contender. Baffert was asked throughout, and by the Belmont, he believed the answer was yes.
Justify keeps showing something new each time he races. Justify might not need to run his absolute best if his rivals struggle to cope with the longer trip. May the best horse win! In defeating nine foes in the Belmont Stakes, he turned back the largest field to challenge a potential Triple Crown victor, yet another element that allows him to stand alone. He'll have nine horses to contend with.
He became the first horse in 136 years to win the Kentucky Derby without having raced as a juvenile, then hung on in a surreal fog to win by a half-length in the Preakness three weeks ago. Bravazo finished sixth in the Derby and closed with a rush to take second in the Preakness. Coming off a three-week break is Blended Citizen. So, even if you aren't typically a horse racing fan, you might want to tune in to see if history is made. The latest that any of the first 12 thoroughbred immortals got started was September 20, the date of Seattle Slew's first race in 1976.
"It was by far his hardest race", his jockey Mike Smith said at the time. I don't think the fast track will hurt him (or for that matter Bravazo, ) but it could give a big boost to some of the others.
Restoring Hope, also trained by Baffert, ran interference for the champion while traveling second and deterring any threats by forcing them to go extremely wide.
"I just kept a leg on each side and my mind in the middle", Smith said.
The fashion scene at the Belmont Stakes is as diverse as NY itself. His performance in the 1973 race set a standard that has yet to be matched. His unofficial time was listed at 2 minutes, 28.18 seconds. He previously won in 2015 with American Pharoah, the colt that ended a 37-year drought.
The 37-year wait for the Triple Crown of horse racing, mercifully ended three years ago when fantastic American Pharoah crossed the finish line first at the 2015 Belmont Stakes, was at the same time exasperating, demoralizing, and borderline comical. Fitzsimmons added to his legend with Gallant Fox (1930) and Omaha (1935).