Justify raced into history Saturday, becoming the 13th horse to win the Triple Crown as he finished first in the 150th Belmont Stakes.
The chestnut colt, jockeyed by Mike Smith, paced the group all race long, eventually pulling away in the closing moments for a wire-to-wire win. Gronkowski was the runner up and Hofburg finished third.
“This horse ran a tremendous race,” an emotional Smith said afterward. “He’s so gifted. He’s sent from heaven, it’s just amazing. I can’t describe the emotions going through my body right now. ”
The victory marks the second time trainer Bob Baffert has accomplished the historic feat in five tries, as he also trained the most recent Triple Crown winner in American Pharoah in 2015. The win also keeps Justify’s undefeated record in tact.
“It’s very emotional for me,” Baffert said , noting the early signs he saw from his horse that a Triple Crown was possible. “He was showing me the same signs [as American Pharoah]. He was showing me that brilliance, [a] superior horse. He could have won every race on the under card today, he’s just that kind of horse.”
The victorious thoroughbred was able to take home the victory from post No. 1, a position Baffert has said previously that he prefers to avoid. Overcoming the unenviable spot added Justify to a list of Triple Crown winners Citation, Assault, Gallant Fox and Sir Barton who have won from No. 1.
With a new entry, here’s the full list of Triple Crown winners:
2018 – Justify
2015 – American Pharoah
1978 – Affirmed
1977 – Seattle Slew
1973 – Secretariat
1948 – Citation
1946 – Assault
1943 – Count Fleet
1941 – Whirlaway
1937 – War Admiral
1935 – Omaha
1930 – Gallant Fox
1919 – Sir Barton