News June 9, 2018: Justify is royal becomes the 13th horse to win the Belmont and the Triple Crown

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Justify is royal becomes the 13th horse to win the Belmont and the Triple Crown

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: CBS Sports

From the start, no other horse had a chance; Justify took the lead and never looked back to win the 150th Belmont Stakes and the 13th Triple Crown. On Saturday afternoon, June 9, 2018, 45 years later to the day, undefeated Justify joined Secretariat in the Triple Crown club. Ridden by jockey Mike Smith, Justify easily won the Belmont Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths in 2:28 18 in the 1 ½ mile “Test of the Champions” in Elmont, New York. Justify becomes the second Triple Crown winner in three years after American Phoroah in 2015. For horse racing, the decade has a very 1970s vibe, when three horses won the Triple Crown after a 25-year drought, Secretariat in 1973, Seattle Slew in 1977, and Affirmed in 1978.

Justify broke from the first post and went to the front to the lead, never losing it where he maintained leads of never less than a half of length throughout the race at one point two lengths. In the stretch, he pulled ahead to win by the 1 3/4 lengths. Justify became the first horse since Secretariat to the Triple Crown from the rail post. Justify “set the pace” and his times for each quarter mile until the mile mark were, :23.37, 48.11, 1:13.21, and 1:38.09.

Baffert commented on Justify rallying to speed up in the stretch, saying, “Turning for home, you could just tell — the great ones always find more.” Gronkowski gave it a shot towards the end, but finished second and while Hofburg finished third. Justify was 3/5 odds-on favorite going into the race but many in horse racing doubted that Justify had the stamina to win the grueling Belmont against horses, who were far more rested.

Smith praised his riding partner to NBC, “This horse ran a tremendous race. He’s so gifted. He’s sent from heaven, I tell you.” After winning, Baffert told NBC, “It never gets old… American Pharoah, he’ll always be my first love.” Baffert also said that Justify “was showing me the same signs,” as American Phoaroah. The horse made his debut just 111 days ago on February 18 at Santa Anita.

Justify keeps on breaking history. Baffert now beats fellow trainer for D. Wayne Lucas for most Triple Crown race wins at 15. Baffert, however, ties “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons to have trained two Triple Crown winners. Fitzsimmons won the Triple Crown with Gallant Fox in 1930 and then with Omaha in 1935. Baffert also trained American Pharoah, who in 2015 became the first horse to win the Triple Crown after a 37-year drought, ever since Affirmed won in 1978. Baffert also has the most attempts to the win the Triple Crown than any other trainer with five.

Smith also makes history as the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown at 52-years-old. By winning the Kentucky Derby, Justify became the only horse since 1882 to win the Derby without running as a two-year-old beating Apollo’s Curse. Apollo in 1882 was the only horse to win the Derby without having run in his two-year-old season, no horse had done it since until now. Justify also tied Seattle slew to become the only second horse to run undefeated, having won all his six races and win the Triple Crown.

READ MORE:

Justify wins the 143rd Preakness keeping Triple Crown hopes alive

Justify makes history beats Apollo’s 136-year-old curse to win the 144th Kentucky Derby

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion, and news. She has a over dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

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News May 21, 2018: Justify wins the 143rd Preakness keeping Triple Crown hopes alive

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NEWS

Justify wins the 143rd Preakness keeping Triple Crown hopes alive

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Associated Press

Amidst the fog, Kentucky Derby winner Justify fended off seven competitors to win the second jewel of the Triple Crown. On Saturday, May 19, 2018,Justify with jockey Mike Smith won the 143rd Preakness stakes by a half a length on a sloppy rain-soaked track at Plimico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. Justify won the shortest Triple Crown race at 1 3/16-mile and $1.5 million purse. Coming in second was Bravazo followed by longshot Tenfold and derby runner-up Good Magic who battled most of the race nose to nose with Justify until the last turn. Justify finished in 1:55.93 seconds, his fifth win in five starts, Smith had his second Preakness win 25 years later and trainer Bob Baffert ties for most Preakness winners, with all his five derby winners winning both legs of the Triple Crown.

Justify broke out of gate seven and kept to the lead, with the champion 2-year-old Good Magic. For three quarter of a mile and seven eighths, the top two horses from the derby duked it out nose to nose in the deep fog and limited visibility. After the last turn, Justify went ahead with Smith using the whip on him, pushing Good Magic in the rail and behind as they headed towards the finish line.

Justify keeps on breaking history. Baffert ties Robert Wyndham Walden, who won seven Preaknesses between 1875 and 1888. Baffert also ties fellow trainer for D. Wayne Lucas for most Triple Crown race wins at 14. Lucas was also trying for his seventh Preakness win with Bravazo and Sporting Chance. While by winning the Derby, Justify became the only horse since 1882 to win the Derby without running as a two-year-old beating Apollo’s Curse.

Baffert told NBC after winning the race, that Justify, “He’s just a great horse to handle all that pressure and keep on running.” Baffert also remakes, “I’m so happy that we got it done. I’ve never had one run that fast here.’’ Baffert also commented on the duel between Justify and Good Magic saying, It was a nail-bite. They put it to us. It was like they had their own private match race (but I’m) so happy we got it done. Such a great horse to handle all that pressure and get it done.” Meanwhile, jockey, Smith commented on Justify’s performance, “He got a little tired. This is his hardest race that he’s had.’’

On Wednesday after the posts were drawn and announced and Justify became the 2–1 odds favorite, Baffert boasted to the press. The Hall-of-Fame trainer expressed, “I like being the favorite. I don’t want to be 50–1. I like knowing that I have a chance to win. When you come in, and you’re like, ‘Well, I don’t know, we’re going to need the Stanford marching band to interfere a little bit,’ then you don’t feel that well. I just feel that when you know that there’s a chance you can pull this off, and when you can win on the big arena, that’s what it’s all about.”

Baffert has a good record; he won the Derby and Preakness with Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in 1998, War Emblem in 2002 and American Pharoah in 2015, which ended up being the 12th Triple Crown winner after a 37-year drought. Now justify moves on to the last and most difficult leg of the Triple Crown known as the “Test of the Champion” with the Belmont Stakes in New York in three weeks on June 9, hoping to become only the 13th horse to win all three jewels.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion, and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

News May 5, 2018: Justify makes history beats Apollo’s 136-year-old curse to win the 144th Kentucky Derby

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Justify makes history beats Apollo’s 136-year-old curse to win the 144th Kentucky Derby

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Kentucky Derby Facebook

It was a history-making day at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. On May 5, 2018, the odds-on favorite Justify won the 144th Kentucky Derby. Still, Justify beat the odds stacked against him, winning on the rainiest day in derby history on a muddy track after three inches of rain, while becoming only the second horse in history to win the derby after not running during his two-year-old season. The 2017 champion two-year-old and Eclipse award winner Good Magic came in a surprise second, with Audible coming in third. This is the first year the Kentucky Derby’s purse was doubled to 2 million. While trainer Bob Baffert picked up his fifth derby win, the second most in history.

The undefeated Justify won all three races he ran in 2018, including the Santa Anita Derby, a major Kentucky Derby prep race. Hall of fame jockey Mike Smith, 52 rode Justify to his second derby victory. Breaking from the seventh gate, the 3-1 odds-on favorite, rode in his comfort spot of second place in the backstretch behind Promises Fulfilled. Then Justify went to first at the 3/4-mile marker and never looked back. Early on rival Bolt d’Oro tried to catch up, then fell back. Towards the last turn, Good Magic had a good try, but in the end, barely beat Audible for second place. Even in the steady heavy rain, Justify did not have any mud on his face as he crossed the finished line by two and a half lengths, finishing the 1 ¼ mile race in 2:04.20. He earned $1,432,000, the largest purse for a Kentucky Derby winner.

Justify was one of two horses running in this year’s derby, who did not have their maiden race as a two-year-old, the other was Magnum Moon. There has not been a horse since the gelding Apollo, who won the Kentucky Derby in 1882, to win without starting as a two-year-old. The draught has become known as the Curse of Apollo. In the intervening 136 years, 61 horses have made the attempt and failed. Eight came close, two finished second, while five finished third. ESPN noted, “The best of that lot were arguably Hall of Famers Coaltown (lost to 1948 Triple Crown winner Citation), Forego (lost to Triple Crown winner Secretariat in 1973) and Curlin (lost to Street Sense in 2007).” Justify did not race because he needed to grow into his massive size. Like Apollo, Justify is a chestnut, but with a white blaze.

The curse had practical reasons up until the turn of this century, where horses ran races in the double digits before reaching the derby. Now key races allow horses to accumulate points, and they are given more time in-between races. The last Kentucky Derby winner to have more than 10 starts was California Chrome in 2014, who was a two-time Eclipse award-winning horse of the year. Justify’s three wins are in line with another famed derby winner Big Brown in 2008.

Baffert tried to compare Justify to his other recent great horses, 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and Breeder’s, Pegasus and Dubai World Cup winner Arrogate. Baffert told the press, “Him and American Pharoah and Arrogate, these horses are cut from a different… They are just so great.” Baffert also complimented his champion horse, saying, “I was just in awe of the performance. That’s the best Kentucky Derby-winning performance that I brought up here.” Jockey Smith, who has won 5,000 races including the 2005 derby on Giacomo, also did not mince words of praise. Smith expressed, “I can’t describe how special this horse is, I don’t have the words for it.”

This is the sixth year in a row the favorite has won, the longest stretch in history. If Justify is anything like Baffert’s last derby winner American Pharoah, he might just end up winning the Triple Crown. The next jewel is the Preakness Stakes on May 19, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, and then the Belmont Stakes on June 9 in Belmont Park in Elmont, New York.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion, and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

News June 6, 2015: American Pharoah rules wins Belmont Stakes becomes 12th Triple Crown winner

American Pharoah rules wins Belmont Stakes becomes 12th Triple Crown winner

June 6, 2015

The 37 year drought is over American Pharoah has won the Triple Crown; he becomes the 12th winner of the exclusive club, making history. American Pharoah won the third jewel of the Triple Crown, the 147th Belmont Stakes, late Saturday…

News May 16, 2015: American Pharoah wins the Preakness one win away from the Triple Crown history

American Pharoah wins the Preakness one win away from the Triple Crown history

May 16, 2015

The rains was with American Pharoah, the favorite sped away to the lead from his the number one post and never looked back winning the 140th Preakness Stakes late Saturday afternoon, May 16, 2015, and keeping the Triple Crown…

News May 2, 2015: Favorite American Pharoah reigns closely wins the 141st Kentucky Derby

Favorite American Pharoah reigns closely wins the 141st Kentucky Derby

May 2, 2015

The odds on favorite to win the 141st Kentucky Derby, American Pharoah did not disappoint. On late Saturday afternoon, May 2, 2015 the champion two-year-old that has won his most recent races by large margins won the first…