The Belmont Stakes results are in, and Justify has made history.
Needing a win to secure the Triple Crown, Justify exploded out of the gate and led the race wire-to-wire, holding off a late charge from Gronkowski to win in blowout fashion and take the second Triple Crown in the last four years. Gronkowski came in second, with Hofburg in third and Vino Rossi in fourth place.
Going into Saturday’s race, all eyes were on Justify and the attempt to complete the second Triple Crown in 40 years and the first since American Pharoah three years ago. The weekend didn’t start well for Justify, as the drawing of spots at Citi Field saw him stuck with the No. 1 post. That was seen as a difficult draw as the other horses would be moving to the inside and could squeeze him out.
But Bob Baffert, the trainer of Justify, didn’t seem to mind too much.
“I never like to draw the rail, but my horses seem to live with it,” Baffert told the New York Times. “We have it, we can’t change it, so we just deal with it.”
Despite the unlucky draw, Justify came into Saturday as a 4-5 favorite to win the Belmont Stakes. There were some who eyed Bravazo as a strong contender after finishing sixth at the Kentucky Derby and just a half-length out of a win at the Preakness, the New York Times noted, but the majority of experts had picked Justify to win and complete the Triple Crown.
And Justify seemed to have little trouble with the post, clearing the field quickly in the race and holding the first position through the duration of the race.
For Bob Baffert, there was little question that Justify could pull it off.
“We knew he was brilliant from Day One as we trained him,” Baffert said after the race.
Immediately after the race, Baffert had a difficult time putting Justify’s win into the context of his own career, saying he would always have a special place in his heart for American Pharoah.
It was a historic race on many accounts. Bob Baffert became the second trainer to win two Triple Crowns and Justify became the second undefeated horse to win the Triple Crown. And at age 52, jockey Mike Smith became the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown.
The full results of the 2018 Belmont Stakes including payouts can be found here under Race 11.