He conquered the slop on May 5 to become the first horse since 1882 to win a Kentucky Derby without having raced as a 2-year-old and followed that feat with a damp and daring Preakness victory through soupy fog on May 16 that sent him to NY with the crown on the line. Two weeks later, Justify weathered torrential rain and a blanket of fog to win the Preakness Stakes, setting himself up for the Triple Crown bid. Justify won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness over sloppy tracks after heavy showers.
Thirty-five horses have gone into the Belmont with a chance to win the Triple Crown but only 12 have completed the feat, with American Pharoah being the most recent in 2015. Justify becomes the thirteenth Triple Crown victor and the first since American Pharoah in 2015. In 2015, Baffert won with American Pharoah who then went on to win the Breeders' Cup, sweeping all four major horse races.
Mike Smith, at 52, is the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. He won his first three races by a combined 19 lengths, making trainer Bob Baffert a believer.
Justify began his career in mid February, capturing a maiden race at Santa Anita before adding an allowance event at that venue a week shy of one month later.
Hofburg finished third 3.5 lengths behind the victor, with Vino Rosso fourth at 3.75 lengths behind. But he likely won't be lauded as horse racing's history savior, like American Pharoah. He didn't compete as a 2-year-old. He also made a late charge to grab third in that race. Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed added their names to the list in the 1970s.
Baffert saddled a second horse: 30-1 shot Restoring Hope.
All that remained was to prove that he had the toughness and resolve to conquer the longest, most grueling leg of the Triple Crown - the Belmont Stakes.
"I think he's got to run better than he did in the Preakness but we know going in he's got the most talent", NBC horse racing analyst Randy Moss said on Friday. So, even if you aren't typically a horse racing fan, you might want to tune in to see if history is made.