Baffert has winning day, 3 times over, at Belmont Stakes

"I just won the Triple Crown, man".

Restoring Hope didn't compete in either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes and was one of the biggest long shots in the field at 33-1, per OddsShark.

Three years later, a strapping chestnut colt named Justify, with a white blaze, a sweeping stride and an unblemished record, came back to the site where American Pharoah had vanquished horse racing's ghosts - with the same trainer, but his own shot at making history. A combination of factors can help or hurt a horse, including a poor start, bad racing luck or jockey error.

He trained American Pharoah in 2015 when the horse won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes in Baltimore and Belmont Stakes in NY after a 37-year Triple Crown dry spell for thoroughbred horse racing.

" target="_blank">WinStar Farm with 60 percent, China Horse Club with 25 percent, and George Soros' SF Bloodstock with 15 percent - to sell them to Coolmore Stud for $60 million with a $15-million accelerator if the son of Scat Daddy were to win the Belmont". "I knew unless he settled it wasn't going to work and he still nearly won".

Besides the grueling distance, the track itself can be tricky. "Even though the fractions were soft for a horse of his caliber, still he had to go a mile and a half". Others have moved too late and let the leaders get away.

"Our focus was on each race as it came up, and now we can take a deep breath and just see how the horse is, " Walden said. He stood so quietly in the starting gate that jockey Mike Smith wondered if he'd respond when it sprang open. He's just an unbelievable horse.

"We've just got to keep working and working and working and just try to produce more graded stakes winners".

Factors that did in so many horses before Justify, like the Derby's 20-horse field, a sloppy track and blazing early pace, seemed only to make this year's Triple Crown victor stronger.

At 6-0, he joins Seattle Slew in 1977 as the only two undefeated Triple Crown winners; he's the first to sweep the series without racing at age 2 (because of a pulled muscle); and he's the only horse to beat nine rivals in the Belmont with a Triple try on the line.

"Fifty-two years old. Think about that accomplishment, winning a Triple Crown at 52 years old?" He's 5-for-5 in a career that did not begin until February 18 of this year.

Baffert said Sunday he essentially will do the same thing this time he did with American Pharoah, which is to bring him back to Churchill Downs for a week or so and then likely to Baffert's home base California. "He looks no different than the way American Pharoah did coming in here".

On a cloudy 80-degree day at Belmont Park, Justify proved a cool customer. I tell you, it's just fantastic. "Once he enters the building, it'll be like Elvis".

With the Belmont Stakes horse race slated for Saturday, the heavily favored Justify is looking to be the second Triple Crown victor in three years.

Justify has won the Belmont Stakes to claim the 13th Triple Crown in the history of horse racing.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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