The 150th Belmont Stake Race was one of records. Justify, a three year old chestnut American Thoroughbred has officially become the second, completely undefeated horse to win the prestige title of Triple Crown Winner(second to Seattle Slew in 1977) under the hall of fame jockey or rider, Mike Smith. Previously only 12 other horses have won the title of Triple Crown Winners, the last being American Pharaoh in 2015. Prior to 2015 the last horse to win The Triple Crown was Affirmed in 1978. The most famous of all Triple Crown Winner’s being Secretariat in 1973 who won by a record breaking 31 lengths or roughly 248 feet(1 length in horse racing equals about 8 feet).
A Triple Crown occurs when a horse wins The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness Stakes, and finally the longest of the three: The Belmont Stakes. Justify previously broke a 136 year drought in the Kentucky Derby by becoming the first horse to win the race without having raced as a two year old.
Interestingly enough the trainer of Justify was the same trainer to American Pharaoh. Bob Baffert as of June 9th has become the 2nd only to Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons to win two Triple Crowns. Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons won with Gallant Fox(1930) and Omaha(1935).
“You know what? It’s just amazing I’m just so proud to be an American, to feel this way, It’s very emotional for me. I know I got a lot of help upstairs. It never gets old, American Pharaoh he’ll always be my first love and for this horse(justify) to do it, and for Mike Smith. Mike Smith deserves something like this. He(Justify) was showing me the same signs(as American Pharaoh). He was showed me that brilliance. Superior horse. I mean he could’ve won every race on the under card today, he’s just that kind of horse. It feels pretty good,” Said trainer, Bob Baffert.
Mike Smith, jockey to Justify and high school dropout, with a principle who stated he will never amount to anything in life has set a new record as well. He has become the oldest jockey to win A Triple Crown at 52 years old. Mike Smith claiming to have ridden horses since he was two was left speechless on his victory at the Belmont. Smith led Justify through the entire race and set the pace, finishing in the unofficial time of 2 minutes and 28.18 seconds and won by a slim 1 1/2 lengths. Smith was previously inducted into The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2003 for having the most Breeder’s Cup Races of any jockey, totaling 26 victories.
“This horse ran a tremendous race, he’s so gifted. He’s sent from heaven. I tell you, it’s just amazing. I can’t describe the emotions going through my body right now,” said jockey, Mike Smith.
A Triple Crown win is nothing to under estimate, 23 horses in all the years of racing have attempted to win the title only to fall short to the longest track: The Belmont Stakes in New York. Fans a like can rejoice in the fact today is marked as one for the history books as Justify’s colors are to be displayed permanently on the Belmont grounds.