Justify wins the Belmont Stakes, earning the coveted Triple Crown

Justify wins the Belmont Stakes, earning the coveted Triple Crown

Besides the grueling distance, the track itself can be tricky. He defeated a deep crop, faced more horses in his three legs than any previous Triple Crown victor.

Remarkably Justify is one of only two horses to have won the Triple Crown while having been undefeated in any previous race; the other is Seattle Slew who feature's in the pedigree of Justify through his dam Stage Magic.

Earlier, Baffert and jockey Mike Smith teamed to win the $750,000 Ogden Phipps with Abel Tasman. It's possible Justify could be paraded at the track like American Pharoah after he won the Triple Crown for Baffert in 2015.

Smith has never been aboard a Triple Crown victor, but at 52 he has the shrewdness and knowledge from regularly riding at Belmont Park years ago to rely on. The crowd has been capped at 90,000.

When skeptics questioned his audacious ambitions for the late-developing colt, Baffert said Justify was talented enough to win the Kentucky Derby with minimal experience.

Now starts the long-shots, as Tenfold is 10/1 to win the Belmont Stakes.

The dark bay colt named after the football star was summarily discounted in the June 9 Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1).

Jockey Mike Smith reacts after guiding Justify to win the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race Saturday
WATCH: Live streaming of Belmont Stakes, Justify's attempt at the Triple Crown

"But they all ran well, but that's all you can ask for, that your horses do well, but they still have to show up". And they come in short order. Belmont Park's deep, sandy surface can prove tiring, too.

The first horse to load in the gate, Justify stayed so still and steady as the other nine followed suit that Smith anxious for a moment that he might not break at all. Horses and riders aren't used to 11/2-mile races in the US, where the focus is on sprinting.

Justify, the Triple Crown victor, will get a well-deserved break before racing again this year, although no date or location has been targeted. He'll have nine horses to contend with.

"This horse ran a tremendous race, he's so gifted", said Smith, who looked to the sky to celebrate after his ride. Justify pulled away down the 1,097-yard stretch in front of screaming fans with only 24-1 shot Gronkowski picking off a half-dozen rivals in taking up the chase down the lane. Coming off a three-week break is Blended Citizen.

The Patriots, of course, were victim to the Giants in both Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI, where tight end Rob Gronkowski just narrowly missed hauling in a hail mary on the final play of the game. He finished 12th that day in the Pat Day Mile on the undercard at Churchill Downs. Restoring Hope will have a new jockey Saturday since Smith will be busy riding Justify.

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. Slew also was a wire-to-wire Belmont victor.

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