Bob Baffert's incredible training job helps WinStar Farm win the Triple Crown

Florence Fletcher
June 13, 2018

Justify with jockey Mike Smith aboard wins the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, U.S., June 9, 2018. They were going slow and he said [jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.] didn't want to make some insane move down the backside to go join him, which probably wouldn't have made any sense.

Vino Ross was the second-place horse when the race entered the stretch on Saturday, getting up to Justify's flank.

Saturday night at Belmont Park, Justify made history when he crossed the finish line ahead of the other horses and became the 13th victor of the Triple Crown.

The 13th Triple Crown victor paused his morning walk to pose for photographs, looking fresher than any horse should after running three high-pressure races in the past five weeks. Baffert oversaw American Pharoah's Triple Crown success in 2015 and has used the same methods with Justify. Of those 35, only 12 have won The Run for the Carnations to complete the feat.

Justify is the second undefeated colt to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont, improving to 6-0 in a racing career that began on February 18.

Jockey Mike Smith, 52, is the second-oldest Kentucky Derby victor behind Bill Shoemaker. "He's just brilliant", said Smith, who at 52 became the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown.

You can read up more on the post positions and what they mean here. "He's so gifted. He's sent from heaven, I tell you". "He could have won every race on the undercard today".

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"It was by far his hardest race", his jockey Mike Smith said at the time. Trainers are looking for experienced riders to lead their thoroughbreds to victory, and no one knows horse racing better than Smith. He has ridden such outstanding horses as Zenyatta, Royal Delta, Songbird, Shared Belief and Game On Dude, but riding Justify has taken him to a new level.

The 3-year-old colt is a 4/5 favorite to win, according to Las Vegas odds, after impressive victories leading up to the event.

"I think it was just a special case", he said.

"He would be the most valuable stallion outside Frankel ever to stand in the world, and we are fortunate to be part of the story", Field said.

"The great ones, they just find another gear", Baffert said. He was also only three-quarters of a length behind Triple Crown contender Justify so keep him in mind when filling out your tri-fectas. Without Him, I wouldn't have all the success I do. "He's my champion." Justify joined Seattle Slew as the only two undefeated Triple Crown winners, culminating a dazzling ascent.

Baffert had fretted after Justify drew the No. 1 post, a spot he detests for his horses. Back in NY where he dominated in the 1990s, Smith took Justify on a walk past the packed grandstand, soaking in the cheers and giving the crowd a closer look at racing's newest hero. Second unbeaten Triple Crown victor, just like the great Seattle Slew in 1977. So any horse that wins all three passes a threshold of speed, strength, and just plain grit.

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