How many horses have managed to win the Kentucky Derby without a foundation racing as a 2-year-old?
He is bidding to join Seattle Slew in 1977 as the only undefeated Triple Crown champions.
Before the race, bettors gave Justify a 3-5 chance of winning, a clear favorite.
"Only two Triple Crown winners have ever been bought at public auction and to think we are all involved in one of them is remarkable". Baffert has won 14 Triple Crown races, equaling the all-time total of legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Coolmore's interest in American Pharoah was not disclosed until the Triple Crown. Fitzsimmons did it with Gallant Fox in 1930 and Omaha in 1935.
"To me, Abel Tasman and Hopportunity, when they set the stage early, I thought this is going to be good", Baffert said. You get asked all the time what your strategy is going to be for a race, but when you have Mike Smith on one of your horses the beauty of it is you can sit back, relax and know that you've put all of that in the hands of the best in the business.
Meanwhile, if Restoring Hope really was there only to help complete the Triple Crown, it was news to his owner. The great Secretariat ended a 25-year drought in 1973 in record fashion, then, four years later, Seattle Slew came along to put his ideal stamp on the feat. Kentucky Derby and Preakness victor Justify will be taking to the sprawling oval to try to become racing's 13th Triple Crown victor and second in four years with a victory in the 1 1/2-mile race.
Three races at various distances on three different tracks over a span of five weeks.
Justify paid $3.50 to place and $2.80 to show.
If Justify beats nine rivals in the 150th Belmont, Bob Baffert would become the second trainer to win the Triple Crown twice. He's sent from heaven, it's just unbelievable. "He's now become a household name, and I'm looking forward to his next race just as much as you guys are".
Like "Big Red", as Secretariat was lovingly called, Justify (an even bigger "Big Red", at 16.3 hands and 1,380 pounds, compared to a typical 1,100-pound thoroughbred), drew the No. 1 post. "When they opened the gate, [jockey] Mike Smith took him to the lead and it was history after that". "He even looked like he added a few pounds from the Preakness, I mean, this horse just recovers so amazingly quick". Smith slowed the pace midway around the 1 1/2-mile track but maintained a two-length lead heading into the backstretch.
There was one horse, however, who was a threat to Justify's Triple Crown bid at the top of the Belmont Park stretch. Vino Rosso made a move to get within a length of Justify but never improved.
Gronkowski, a 24-1 shot trained by Chad Brown and part-owned by New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski, came from well back to finish second under jockey Jose Ortiz.