If Justify wins on Saturday, he will have faced the largest field (nine) of any of the previous 12 Triple Crown winners.
He returned to their cheers with an unblemished record and perfectly clean silks in sharp contrast to his muddied and beaten rivals.
After racing in WinStar Farm colors in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Justify bore the red and yellow of China Horse Club on Saturday.
The 24-1 long-shot Gronkowski battled from the back of the pack to cross the line second, nearly two length’s behind Justify, while the 5-1 Hofburg finished third.
If there’s a common theme among the crowd, it’s the desire to take a selfie to bear witness to their attendance at Justify’s bid for the Triple Crown.
As impressed as people were by Justify’s win, even more people had sports jokes ready. We thought he was that kind of horse, but he had to prove it, and he did.
Not since Seattle Slew has a horse managed to enter the Triple Crown ideal and exit it without a defeat.
Historically, deep closers have not fared well in the Belmont, so riders will seek to put their horses within a few lengths at the quarter pole.
Justify will be trying to become thoroughbred racing’s 13th Triple Crown victor.
Wallace went into yesterday’s race in a pragmatic mood, knowing wishing doesn’t tend to make racehorses run any faster. “They were going slow and (jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr.) said he didn’t want to make some insane move down the backside to go join him, which probably wouldn’t have made any sense”.
“But to win it, to be there and one part of it was surreal”.
Bravazo (8-1), D. Wayne Lukas’ horse, ran tough races in the Derby and Preakness (sixth and second), He’s shown he has the toughness and moxie to stay with Justify and should be considered by railbirds on all exotics.
When it comes to the Belmont Stakes, none have owned the race more than Eddie Arcaro. He’s so in tune with his horses, and he’s not going to bring horses up here unless they’re right. “I knew unless he settled it wasn’t going to work and he still nearly won”.
“It’s such an fantastic horse”, said Gunther from Elmont.
But he also has his own bloodstock company, Waterford Bloodstock. His performance in the 1973 race set a standard that has yet to be matched.
“He listens to you – to everything I do”, Smith said. Gunther said. “But you’ve got to keep doing it just to try it again”.
Should he win, he will be only the second undefeated horse to complete the triple crown, joining Seattle Slew (1977). Justify has now raced six times in 112 days, and has come out the other side of the Triple Crown unscathed.
Justify took that to a whole new level.
He became the first horse in 136 years to win the Kentucky Derby without having raced as a juvenile, then hung on in a surreal fog to win by a half-length in the Preakness three weeks ago.