Justify will chase Triple Crown today at Belmont Stakes

Justify Wins Triple Crown With Dominant Victory at Belmont

Sir Barton was the first to win the Triple Crown in 1919, nearly a century ago.

Gronkowski was slow to start, trailing for much of the race, but just like his namesake, he didn't give up.

"This never gets old", an emotional Baffert said after the race. This horse, who is jockeyed by two-time Stakes victor John Velasquez, skipped the Preakness to be fresh for the Belmont. The weather was clear and dry at Belmont on Friday. Justify won the first two legs on sloppy tracks.

"It's awesome", said Baffert, who had Triple Crown near-misses with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002).

Getty Justify is one win away from a Triple Crown. The next best choices were 6-1 odds shared by Bravazo and Hofburg.

He ran the longest race of the series in 2:28.18 and paid $3.60, $3.50 and $2.80.

After wearing mainly white silks in the previous two triple crown races, Smith on Saturday will don the colors - red with yellow stars - of the China Horse Club, part owner of the three-year-old colt.

"American Pharoah loved human contact", Baffert told the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Bob Baffert is 2-for-2 at Belmont Park so far.

"There was no pace and nobody put any pressure on [Justify] and he kind of walked the dog going around there", said Bill Mott, Hall of Fame trainer of Hofburg. Horses and riders aren't used to 11/2-mile races in the US, where the focus is on sprinting. He's certainly the greatest of the 21st century and in the running for G.O.A.T status, given his two transcendent Triple Crown horses. "He's so gifted", Smith said in a TV interview directly after the race.

But American Pharoah and Justify are showing that the Triple Crown is now an attainable goal in the horse-racing industry. "I was going to bring four (horses) but I didn't want to buck those odds of, like a year ago".

The fashion scene at the Belmont Stakes is as diverse as NY itself.

The food in some ways is typically NY: pizza, wings, hot dogs and beer.

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The pressure was intense and "Big Money Mike" reacted like a veteran. That'll be run later Saturday.

It was the first of five mounts Smith has on the 13-race card.

Justify achieved one of the sports' toughest feats 45 years to the day that Secretariat won the Belmont by a record 31 lengths. He'll run 1 1/2 miles around Belmont's sweeping oval Saturday with nine rivals gunning to keep history from happening. The crowd has been capped at 90,000.

In addition to the 12 Triple Crown winners, a host of historic names have graced the Belmont Stakes winner's circle draped in the blanket of carnations.

Baffert took American Pharoah to Saratoga in August 2015 and the Triple Crown victor was upset by Keen Ice in the Travers.

The colt named for New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski brings a four-race winning streak into his USA debut.

Justify became the first colt in 136 years to win the Derby after not racing as a 2-year-old.

The 24-1 long-shot Gronkowski battled from the back of the pack to cross the line second, nearly two lengths behind Justify, while the 5-1 Hofburg finished third amid overcast but dry conditions. Baffert won in 2015 with American Pharoah. Everyone got a fair shot at me.

Baffert had fretted after Justify drew the No. 1 post, a spot he detests for his horses.

Bravazo and Vino Rosso, both 8/1, are also considered legitimate threats.

The forecast calls for a high of 80 degrees and cloudy skies.

NBCSN will broadcast live action from Churchill Downs on Saturday night from 8:30-10 p.m.

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