2018 Belmont Stakes: Justify wins Belmont to earn 13th Triple Crown in history

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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.

WATCH: JUSTIFY CLAIMS 13TH TRIPLE CROWN

“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

 

Santa Anita, Keeneland, Del Mar are Breeders’ Cup sites

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — The Breeders’ Cup has chosen Santa Anita, Keeneland and Del Mar to host its World Championships from 2019-2021 respectively, continuing its recent venue rotation between California and Kentucky tracks.

Santa Anita will host the season-ending event for a record 10th time in Nov. 1-2, 2019. Kentucky-based Keeneland (Nov. 6-7, 2020) and Del Mar (Nov. 5-6, 2021) will present the races for the second time each after debuting as venues in 2015 and 2017 respectively.

Breeders’ Cup president and CEO Craig Fravel noted those tracks’ success with the event in a release on Friday and added we “look forward to building upon past triumphs.”

Louisville’s Churchill Downs will host races on Nov. 2-3. The last Breeders’ Cup held outside California and Kentucky was at New Jersey’s Monmouth Park in 2007.

Victor Espinoza in neck brace at home after accident

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DEL MAR, Calif. — Hall of Fame jockey Victor Espinoza is wearing a neck brace while recovering at his San Diego home after fracturing a vertebra during a training accident at Del Mar.

Agent Brian Beach says on Twitter that the 46-year-old rider spent 11 days in the hospital and at a rehabilitation facility.

Espinoza says he initially thought he might be paralyzed after the July 22 fall at the track north of San Diego. He told ABC affiliate KGTV in San Diego that his body was numb and he could only move his right arm.

The jockey says the first time he cried was when he first started moving his right leg and by the time he got to the hospital he started moving his other leg.

Espinoza says his left arm is still numb. He will be in the neck brace for six weeks and hopes to make a full recovery.

He was exercising Bobby Abu Dhabi during morning workouts when the horse had an apparent heart attack and threw Espinoza off. Bobby Abu Dhabi died.

Espinoza rode American Pharoah to a sweep of the Triple Crown in 2015.