Losing Owner Ignites a Triple Crown Brouhaha

Grant SmithJun 14, 2018

He knew in February that the 3-year-old chestnut colt, who had yet to run a race, was something special.

The operation owns 15 percent of the breeding rights to Justify, who is descended from previous Triple Crown winners Seattle Slew and Secretariat.

"Today, he looked fantastic", Baffert said.

But Smith turned it into an advantage, gunning Justify to the lead and defying any horse to challenge. Billy Turner, his trainer, had to negotiate the colt's transition from shiny young object to a horse of classic depth and poise, and they never missed a note. "He got really rank with him".

Justify won the Belmont on Saturday by 1 3/4 lengths over 24-1 shot Gronkowski after winning the Kentucky Derby by 2 1/2 lengths and the Preakness by a half-length. "As such, Mr. Lewandowski indicated neither he nor his fellow stewards plan to discuss race strategy with Florent Geroux".

Which is why there should be no surprise that the opening quarter-mile of the 150th Belmont Stakes last Saturday has become grist for post-race agita. He isn't listed quite at even odds, but that could change by post time and it's hard to see him dropping much further than he is now.

"Pharoah made so many people feel good", Baffert said.

He told reporters he had an easy ride.

Baffert seemed to acknowledge that the plan for Restoring Hope was to lay in second for the first turn, but not as part of a plan to help Justify. He will be one of the better rested horses in the race, and at a mile and a half that could be important. The track said details for honoring Justify were still being worked out.

"I was like, 'Oh, Mike".

Baffert's reply: "There's plenty of gas in the tank, Don't use it all up at once". Sent off as the 4-5 favorite, Justify ran the longest race of the series in 2:28.18 and paid $3.60, $3.50 and $2.80.

"This horse ran a tremendous race", Smith beamed.

Justify became the 13th thoroughbred to win horse racing's Triple Crown. He had expressed cautious confidence in the lead up to the race, saying afterward he was impressed Justify had "showed that brilliance".

Five (1930, 1943, 1946, 1973 and 1977) of the 11 national championships in Fighting Irish football history have come in years there's been a Triple Crown victor.

Baffert fell short the first three times he brought a horse to Belmont with a chance at the Triple Crown - with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002).

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