News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. June 20, 2018: Justify on Saturday, June 9, 2018, became only the 13th horse in US Flat racing history to complete a Triple Crown sweep when he won the Belmont Stakes by 1 ¾ lengths. The Bob Baffert-trained horse had defied the odds when securing victory at both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, and while he did go off as favorite on Saturday, many still felt the odds were actually stacked against him, especially as he started on the rail.
Justify in many ways is a bit of a late bloomer, with the three-year-old colt only making his debut back in February, 77 days before the Kentucky Derby. His first three races saw him win by a combined 19 lengths and this really made trainer Bob Baffert stand up and take note. Bob Baffert had trained the last Triple Crown Winner in American Pharoah, and he believed he could do it again with Justify.
The first hurdle Justify had to deal with was the Kentucky Derby. The track was sloppy but that didn’t stop Justify announcing himself on the national stage as he romped home 2 ½ lengths clear of his rivals. That was one box ticked, with the next challenge being the Preakness two weeks later. Again, the conditions weren’t great, especially with the track being shrouded by fog, but Justify managed to win by half a length, setting up a real chance of Triple Crown Glory.
The Belmont Stakes was always going to be the real test of Justify’s credentials, especially with over 90,000 fans present, roaring him on as he made his way onto the track. Justify remained calm, but when the gate sprang open, he was gone. It was a stunning performance which confirmed Betpoint and other bookmakers belief that Justify was destined to make history. Justify led the race from start to finish and managed to produce a stunning performance to secure the Triple Crown. Trainer Bob Baffert couldn’t hide his delight as he said, “I think he’s the greatest of all time.” He went on to say, “I just won the Triple Crown, man. He’s my champion.”
To say that Justify only made his racing debut back in February, he’s achieved a hell of a lot in a very short space of time. As things stand he is also at 6-0 when it comes to his racing record, and along with Seattle Slew of 1977, becomes only the second undefeated Triple Crown winner. He is in a league of his own in other respects though as he’s the only Triple crown winner not to race at the age of 2 and he’s also the only horse to beat 9 rivals in the Belmont Stakes with a Triple Crown on the line.
Justify’s success also saw Mike Smith become the oldest jockey to ever win the Triple Crown at 52, while it was a great day for trainer Bob Baffert too. Baffert is now only the second trainer, alongside James “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons, to steer two horses to Triple Crown Glory, with Justify and American Pharaoh putting him in the record books.