Justify wins Triple Crown with dominant victory at Belmont

(CNN) – Sixteen weeks ago, no one knew what to make of Justify — except Hall of Fame horse racing trainer Bob Baffert.

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

And the horse proved his trainer prescient, winning a Triple Crown with a mesmerizing and dominant victory at the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.

Justify defied the difficult post position along the rail, breaking well and taking the lead within seconds. None of the other nine horses had a chance to catch him.

The 4-5 favorite handled the 1.5-mile distance easily, and though runner-up Gronkowski was less than 2 lengths back, Justify never looked in danger of losing.

“I wanted to see that horse’s name up there because we know he was brilliant from Day 1,” Baffert said. “And I am so happy for Mike Smith. There is no more deserving (jockey) than him.”

Smith said Baffert made his dreams come true.

“Just so blessed that this happened,” he told broadcaster NBC.

Baffert also trained Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2015. Baffert — who has won more Triple Crown races than anyone — complimented his team for helping the horse, which ran three major, testing races in five weeks.

Justify became the 13th thoroughbred to win horse racing’s Triple Crown. He has won all six races he has run this year. Only Seattle Slew in 1977 was also an undefeated Triple Crown champion.

It was the largest Belmont field ever beaten by a Triple Crown winner.

Gronkowski, named for the NFL player, finished second, having been last for much of the race. Hofburg was third.

Blogs

Five Observations from OKC’s 96-91 Season Ending Loss in Utah

By Michael Doutey The season that was born with such optimism and expectation soured as the season matured and has finally come to a despondent end. It has been a long, grueling and frustrating season. This season has been anything but what we expected. The Thunder were supposed to be the NBA’s newest “Super Team”…

Five Observations from OKC’s Thrilling 107-99 Comeback Win Over Utah

By Michael Doutey The season was all but over. The Oklahoma City Thunder were down 25 points in the opening moments of the third quarter in an elimination game. Down 3-1 in the opening round of the playoffs and the Thunder showed no life or sense of urgency. There’s been a dark cloud hanging over…

Three Observations from OKC’s 113-96 Game 4 Loss in Utah

By Michael Doutey The Oklahoma City Thunder fall 3-1 in their opening round playoff series after suffering 113-96 loss to the Utah Jazz. The Thunder got off to an excellent start, leading 30-24 at the end of the first quarter. That was the best 12 minute stretch of basketball of the entire series. However, that…

Five Observations from OKC’s 115-102 Game 3 Loss in Utah

By Michael Doutey The Oklahoma City Thunder drop Game 3 115-102 in Salt Lake City. The Thunder were beat in every phase of the game. OKC’s defense was not locked in the whole night, other than a small period in the second quarter where OKC took at 12 point lead. The Thunder offense had it…