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Justify wins the Belmont Stakes, earning the coveted Triple Crown

10 June 2018

And they come in short order.

Smith let Justify roll through a first quarter in:23.37, then subtly eased up the tempo to mark the half-mile in:48.11. That horse's first crop hasn't even raced yet. Baffert was asked throughout, and by the Belmont, he believed the answer was yes.

The favored three-year-old chestnut colt seized an early lead he never relinquished as he stormed around the 1.5 mile (12-furlong) course in two minutes 28.18 seconds for the wire-to-wire win at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. He'll have nine horses to contend with. Hofburg was also trying to put in a bid between horses, and Gronkowski kept advancing up the rail to move into second position at the top of the stretch. Coming off a three-week break is Blended Citizen.

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Several weeks later he competed in the second leg of the three-race trilogy, The Preakness, and won in dominant fashion despite heavy rain and mud slowing the field down. The most rested entry is Gronkowski, having last run on March 30 in England.

No chance. Between his imposing size and the way his chestnut coat glistens in the sun, Justify is hard to overlook, particularly with his muscular hind legs propelling him forward.

The 2018 Belmont Stakes took place Saturday, and history was made. He finished 12th that day in the Pat Day Mile on the undercard at Churchill Downs. So, Justify's jockey, Mike Smith, would gross $80,000.

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Justify, who did not race as a two-year-old, is now undefeated in six starts. His performance in the 1973 race set a standard that has yet to be matched. American Pharoah ended a 37-year drought in 2015.

The silver-haired Californian becomes only the second trainer to saddle more than one Triple Crown victor after "Sunny" Jim Fitzsimmons, who trained Gallant Fox and Omaha between the wars. James "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons guided Gallant Fox in 1930 and Omaha in 1935. The 1940s saw Whirlaway, Count Fleet, Assault and Citation achieve racing immortality.

Seattle Slew's Triple Crown - four years after that of Secretariat, was swiftly followed by Affirmed's in 1978.

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Justify wins the Belmont Stakes, earning the coveted Triple Crown