Justify roaring and ready to claim Triple Crown at Belmont Stakes

6/7/2018 10:20:33 PM EST

Justify, unraced as a 2-year-old and unbeaten in five career trips to the post, will attempt to be the 13th horse in history to win horse racing's Triple Crown during Saturday's 150th running of the Belmont Stakes.

To be successful, he'll have to beat nine other 3-year-old equine athletes in the 1 1/2-mile race at expansive Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., the largest oval of any thoroughbred racetrack in North America.

If Justify does so, he'll be just the second horse in history to win the Triple Crown without tasting defeat -- the first was the legendary Seattle Slew in 1977.

The Belmont Stakes is the longest of the Triple Crown races, one lap around the main track with a stretch ending in front of a huge and boisterous grandstand full of fans anxious to witness history. It will be the only time Justify, or any of those lined up to try to stop his run to immortality, ever races that far.

Justify, the burly chestnut son of Scat Daddy out of the Ghostzapper mare Stage Magic, already has proven his mettle, as he became the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby without a start at 2 since Apollo in 1882.

He followed that historical win with another in the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore three weeks ago but is up against another barrier Saturday in the suburbs of the Big Apple: No horse has ever captured the Triple Crown without having started at age 2.

"It's been an incredible journey," Justify's trainer, Bob Baffert, said Wednesday. "It's been quick. He's handled everything thrown at him without losing his composure. A lot of horses get nervous, hot. Justify thrives on this.

"Not only is he a great athlete, but he has a great mind. In the Derby, the Preakness, he was in the paddock like he'd handled it all before. He's a very fearless type of horse."

If Justify wins, he will set a record for the most opponents beaten in a Belmont Stakes with a Triple Crown at stake, a remarkable achievement considering he didn't compete in a race until Feb. 18.

If he loses, he will join an even longer list, becoming the 21st horse since 1944 -- and the 13th since 1979 -- to win the Derby and Preakness and fall short when competing in the Belmont.

Justify is owned by China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners LLC, Starlight Racing and WinStar Farm. His lifetime earnings are now more than $2.9 million.

A New York Times report last week said Justify's breeding rights have been sold to Coolmore Stud for $60 million, a figure that was negotiated before the colt won the Preakness. The same report claims that figure will increase by $25 million if Justify wins the Triple Crown.

Justify looked right at home on the track during his first workout at Belmont on Thursday, moving around briskly and galloping with authority. He still looks as though he's carrying good weight, and there are no signs that the demanding road to win three Grade 1 races on three tracks at three distances in just five weeks have worn him down.

Both the Derby and the Preakness -- as well as the Santa Anita Derby prior to the Triple Crown races - were run on off tracks, meaning the surfaces were affected by rain. Those conditions are obviously to Justify's liking.

The forecast for Saturday calls for a 40 percent chance of afternoon showers, with a high of 79 degrees.

Justify has drawn the rail and the No. 1 post position and will most likely use his speed to get the lead under jockey Mike Smith and try to outlast any other horse who tries to go with him or run him down in the stretch.

As for those that will try to beat Justify in the Belmont, six have run against him in one of the other Triple Crown races.

Those most likely to take a run at stopping Justify are Hofburg, who was a troubled seventh in the Derby; Noble Indy and Vino Rosso, trained by three-time Belmont winner Todd Pletcher; and Bravazo and Tenfold, both beaten less than a length by Justify in the Preakness.

Hofburg will be the second choice to Justify. His trainer, Hall of Famer Bill Mott, won the Belmont in 2010 with Drosselmeyer.

"Our horse has plenty of stamina," Mott said. "That's his forte. He keeps coming. He fits the profile of a horse who'll like the Belmont. I have a lot of respect for Justify. It's a major challenge to beat him. But you can't let him go around by himself."

The other three runners are making their first appearance in a Triple Crown race.

Blended Citizen comes off a victory over this track in the Peter Pan Stakes on May 12. Restoring Hope, also trained by Baffert, is still eligible for a first-level allowance and is running at the urging of owner Gary West.

Gronkowski, sure to take money being named for and now co-owned by tight end Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots, is making his first start since being imported to the United States and turned over to trainer Chad Brown. He will race on Lasix for the first time.

--Field Level Media

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Wed, 20 Jun 2018 17:22:43 EST Maple Leafs sign Carrick, Pickard to one-year deals
Wed, 20 Jun 2018 15:15:57 EST Caps will open NHL season, raise banner Oct. 3 vs. Bruins
Wed, 20 Jun 2018 11:10:14 EST Report: Predators' Watson faces domestic assault charge

WTA Stories

Sat, 23 Jun 2018 13:29:50 EST WTA roundup: Maria ends Kenin's run to reach Mallorca final
Fri, 22 Jun 2018 14:19:39 EST WTA roundup: American teen Kenin gets signature win of career
Thu, 21 Jun 2018 16:17:20 EST WTA roundup: Strycova upsets Muguruza at Birmingham
Wed, 20 Jun 2018 14:45:41 EST WTA roundup: Svitolina into Nature Valley quarters
Tue, 19 Jun 2018 17:46:49 EST WTA roundup: Kvitova downs Konta at Birmingham
Mon, 18 Jun 2018 17:48:38 EST WTA roundup: Rybarikova tops Pliskova at Birmingham in Wimbledon rematch
Sun, 17 Jun 2018 12:50:49 EST WTA roundup: Krunic rallies again to capture first title
Sat, 16 Jun 2018 15:55:53 EST WTA roundup: Krunic stuns top-seeded Vandeweghe in semis
Fri, 15 Jun 2018 12:13:44 EST WTA roundup: Vandeweghe survives to reach Libema semis
Thu, 14 Jun 2018 16:16:08 EST WTA roundup: Barty, Konta advance to Nottingham quarters
Wed, 13 Jun 2018 15:53:51 EST WTA Roundup: Vandeweghe reaches quarters at Libema Open
Tue, 12 Jun 2018 16:57:48 EST WTA roundup: Pair of top-5 seeds swept out early in Libema Open
Mon, 11 Jun 2018 14:49:50 EST WTA roundup: Rybarikova, Osaka need three sets to survive at Nottingham
Sat, 09 Jun 2018 11:40:16 EST Halep rallies past Stephens for first Grand Slam title
Thu, 07 Jun 2018 14:27:18 EST Halep, Stephens earn spots in French Open final
Wed, 06 Jun 2018 11:00:34 EST Muguruza rolls over Sharapova into French Open semis
Tue, 05 Jun 2018 12:22:26 EST Stephens, Keys win to set up All-American semis at French Open
Tue, 05 Jun 2018 10:56:29 EST Serena Williams 'super excited' after doctor visit
Mon, 04 Jun 2018 15:45:43 EST No. 2 Wozniacki bounced by Kasatkina
Mon, 04 Jun 2018 10:03:34 EST Serena Williams withdraws from French Open with pectoral injury

LPGA Stories

Fri, 22 Jun 2018 21:52:14 EST Winless Lopez on top in Arkansas
Sun, 17 Jun 2018 18:19:37 EST Ryu prevails at Meijer LPGA Classic for sixth career win
Sat, 16 Jun 2018 19:11:23 EST Pace, Nordqvist grab share of lead at Meijer LPGA Classic
Fri, 15 Jun 2018 20:24:26 EST Ryu seizes control of lead at Meijer LPGA Classic
Thu, 14 Jun 2018 20:13:16 EST Shon, Ryu share lead at Meijer LPGA Classic
Sun, 10 Jun 2018 20:07:41 EST Annie Park shoots 63 to claim first LPGA Tour victory
Sat, 09 Jun 2018 21:27:23 EST Herbin, Kim share ShopRite lead with Round 2 suspended
Fri, 08 Jun 2018 19:27:53 EST Diaz, 43, part of 3-way tie for ShopRite lead
Sun, 03 Jun 2018 21:21:08 EST Jutanugarn recovers to win U.S. Women's Open in playoff
Fri, 01 Jun 2018 21:28:57 EST Smith in control at U.S. Women's Open as rain suspends play
Thu, 31 May 2018 21:31:43 EST Jutanugarn among three atop U.S. Women's Open
Thu, 31 May 2018 14:25:19 EST Ariya Jutanugarn (67) grabs early lead at U.S. Women's Open
Wed, 30 May 2018 13:49:54 EST 13-year-old alternate Pano bails on U.S. Women's Open
Wed, 30 May 2018 12:49:02 EST USGA: Ball played as it lies at soaked U.S. Women's Open
Sun, 27 May 2018 20:15:54 EST Lee earns 4th LPGA win on 22nd birthday
Sat, 26 May 2018 23:29:22 EST Lee surges to two-stroke lead at Volvik Championship
Fri, 25 May 2018 21:25:16 EST Hataoka takes one-shot lead at Volvik Championship
Thu, 24 May 2018 20:14:48 EST Four tied for lead at Volvik Championship
Thu, 24 May 2018 02:27:16 EST LPGA announces new South Korean event
Tue, 22 May 2018 17:07:45 EST LPGA legend Mann dies at 77

WNCAAB Stories

Mon, 16 Apr 2018 15:42:54 EST Former Tennessee great Charles-Furlow dead at 49
Fri, 06 Apr 2018 23:51:39 EST South Carolina's Wilson earns Wooden Award
Mon, 02 Apr 2018 15:50:53 EST UConn's Stevens skipping final season, entering WNBA draft
Sun, 01 Apr 2018 21:15:27 EST Easter stunner: Irish win title on last-second 3-pointer
Sat, 31 Mar 2018 18:07:32 EST South Carolina's Wilson wins Naismith player of year
Sat, 31 Mar 2018 00:26:56 EST Ogunbowale's shot lifts Notre Dame over UConn in OT thriller
Fri, 30 Mar 2018 21:46:41 EST Mississippi State outlasts Louisville in OT to advance to national championship
Mon, 26 Mar 2018 23:16:06 EST Notre Dame downs Oregon to charge into Final Four
Mon, 26 Mar 2018 23:01:32 EST UConn routs defending champion South Carolina to reach Final Four
Sun, 25 Mar 2018 21:57:47 EST McCowan, Mississippi State outmuscle UCLA to reach Final Four
Sun, 25 Mar 2018 22:04:33 EST Durr scores 18 as Louisville romps into Final Four
Sat, 24 Mar 2018 20:46:48 EST Oregon cruises past Central Michigan to advance to Elite Eight
Sat, 24 Mar 2018 21:11:38 EST Notre Dame edges Texas A&M to make Elite Eight
Sat, 24 Mar 2018 20:52:26 EST Collier paces top-seeded UConn in win over Duke
Sat, 24 Mar 2018 20:57:12 EST No. 2 seed South Carolina pulls away late to top Buffalo
Sat, 24 Mar 2018 00:34:21 EST NCAA women's roundup: Oregon State stuns Baylor
Fri, 23 Mar 2018 23:54:01 EST Louisville overpowers Stanford in regional semis
Fri, 23 Mar 2018 23:40:30 EST UCLA edges Texas to reach Elite Eight
Fri, 23 Mar 2018 23:42:57 EST Oregon State ends Baylor's 30-game winning streak in Sweet 16 upset
Fri, 23 Mar 2018 23:19:07 EST Mississippi State cruises past NC State to advance to Elite Eight

USA Stories

Tue, 19 Jun 2018 16:16:19 EST Report: NFL invited to testify at congressional hearing on sports betting
Mon, 11 Jun 2018 23:10:39 EST Drag racing legend Tom 'The Mongoose' McEwen dead at 81
Mon, 11 Jun 2018 22:49:22 EST Bode Miller's 19-month-old daughter drowns
Mon, 11 Jun 2018 17:10:47 EST N.J. governor signs sports betting into law, wagering to begin Thursday
Sun, 10 Jun 2018 13:25:55 EST Justify expected to race rest of 2018
Sun, 10 Jun 2018 01:43:26 EST Report: Justify worth record $75M value
Sat, 09 Jun 2018 19:34:13 EST Justify wins Belmont Stakes, becomes 13th Triple Crown winner
Fri, 08 Jun 2018 13:35:45 EST Justify has 'smooth' final workout ahead of Belmont
Thu, 07 Jun 2018 22:43:04 EST Sports betting bills sent to N.J. governor for approval
Thu, 07 Jun 2018 16:21:10 EST Justify roaring and ready to claim Triple Crown at Belmont Stakes
Thu, 07 Jun 2018 14:03:16 EST Justify impresses in gallop at Belmont Park
Wed, 06 Jun 2018 19:07:05 EST Delaware receives $322K in bets on first day
Wed, 06 Jun 2018 18:07:29 EST Triple Crown hopeful Justify arrives in New York
Tue, 05 Jun 2018 23:01:36 EST WCWS: Florida State sweeps for 1st NCAA title
Tue, 05 Jun 2018 21:28:58 EST Ex-USA Gymnastics CEO pleads 5th at Senate hearing
Tue, 05 Jun 2018 18:51:23 EST Justify seeking Triple Crown from No. 1 post at Belmont
Tue, 05 Jun 2018 10:40:30 EST XFL hires Oliver Luck as commissioner
Mon, 04 Jun 2018 22:10:44 EST WCWS: Seminoles blank Huskies, take 1-0 finals lead
Sun, 03 Jun 2018 21:50:04 EST WCWS: Washington, Florida State reach title series
Fri, 01 Jun 2018 00:43:24 EST WCWS: Oregon routs Arizona State in opener

INDY Stories

Sun, 27 May 2018 17:54:42 EST Power finally claims elusive Indy 500 victory
Sun, 27 May 2018 17:40:48 EST Patrick crashes out of final Indy 500