Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
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Justify Wins Belmont to Become 13th Triple Crown Champ

Justify Wins Belmont to Become 13th Triple Crown Champ

"He would be the most valuable stallion outside Frankel ever to stand in the world, and we are fortunate to be part of the story", Field said.

Some names even the casual racing fan will recognize as third-jewel winners, in addition to the 12 Triple Crown winners, include Spendthrift, Peter Pan, Colin, Native Dancer, Nashua, Needles, Gallant Man, Sword Dancer, Riva Ridge, Conquistador Cielo, Swale, Bet Twice, Risen Star, Easy Goer, A.P. Indy, Colonial Affair, Point Given and Empire Maker. "He's my champion", the smiling, ageless jockey added. Network coverage on NBC Sports begins at 4:00 p.m. ET with undercard races and commentary on NBC Sports Network starting at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Concern over Justify's No. 1 position was eliminated right away, as Smith recalled the start. "He jumped to the left, but he jumped very fast to the left".

"He's so brilliant. Did you see him in the gate, he's standing so still", Smith said.

"I knew on the first turn that it wasn't good because the way the horse was running, he was not relaxed and we still had a mile and a half to go nearly", jockey Stewart Elliott recalled recently. 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's so gifted", Smith said in a TV interview directly after the race.

The 37-year wait for the Triple Crown of horse racing, mercifully ended three years ago when unbelievable American Pharoah crossed the finish line first at the 2015 Belmont Stakes, was at the same time exasperating, demoralizing, and borderline comical.

What's ahead for Smith remains to be seen.

"Our focus was on each race as they came up", Elliot Walden of WinStar Farm said after Justify's Triple Crown Banner was unveiled Sunday.

Justify's quick ascent to North American prominence will undoubtedly put pressure on Glennwood to produce another Triple Crown contender. "I told him "welcome to the club".

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness victor is the early 4-5 favorite for Saturday's 1 ½-mile Belmont, the longest and most grueling of the three-race series. "It was an fantastic feeling but I think it is going to take a while to really sink in". He won his first three races by a combined 19 lengths, making trainer Bob Baffert a believer.

"In my opinion Mike's one of the greatest athletes of our time, any sport", former jockey Jeffrey Bloom told USA Today.

Justify settled into a good rhythm and turned back a brief early bid from Vino Rosso (Curlin) on the turn.

"It was exciting to think about what could be down the road with this horse", Brown said. "You can't find horses like this; they find you".

Justify's breeding rights have been reportedly sold for $85 million.

The future may be unknown or undetermined for Justify, but Baffert wasn't ready to stop glowing about what transpired Saturday. "It was meant to be".

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