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 to run three days a week, hike purses for six weeks

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ARCADIA, Calif. — Santa Anita will race three days a week instead of four over the next four weeks because the track has lost some of its horse population to out-of-state venues.

Several stables have shipped horses to Kentucky to run at Keeneland and Churchill Downs, leaving Santa Anita with fewer horses to race and smaller field sizes.

Track officials have yet to decide whether to race three days or four for the final three weeks of the spring meet, which ends June 23.

The track said Friday it is raising purses for all non-stake races by $10,000 each for the next six weeks as a way to help owners and trainers who lost money when the track was closed for most of March.

The deaths of 23 horses since Dec. 26 forced the closure while the track’s dirt surface was examined. Racing resumed March 29, with one horse death occurring since then as the result of injuries in a turf race.

The purse increase announced Friday begins April 26 and runs through June 2. Track officials will decide later whether to continue it through the end of the meet.

The increase is being funded by existing excess money in the purse account and money from The Stronach Group, which owns the track.

Thoroughbred Owners of California chairman Nick Alexander says his group will match the purse supplements funded by TSG in the hopes of returning to racing four days a week.

Churchill Downs enacts improvements for horse, rider safety

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Churchill Downs will invest $8 million for an on-site equine medical center as part of several other measures to improve safety for horses and riders.

The medical center is expected to open next March and will include a quarantine facility. Next month’s Kentucky Derby will have a temporary medical center. The track’s parent company, Churchill Downs Incorporated, will also hire an equine medical director to oversee safety at its facilities.

The historic track will also install camera surveillance with other improvements to the backside area.

Earlier Thursday, Churchill Downs and several other tracks announced they would phase out use of the anti-bleeding medication Lasix for horses within 24 hours of racing. The track later announced other initiatives, including advocating for additional equine medication reforms; the formation of an Office of Racing Integrity that will to develop uniformed medication and safety standards; formalizing concussion protocol for jockey safety; and adopting international standards for riding crop use.