Justify wins Triple Crown with victory at Belmont

Belmont Stakes 2018: The 6 horses that are the best bets to upset Justify

He's re-writing the history books. The Kentucky Derby prize money now totals roughly $2 million, with $1.24 million for the victor.

The 52-year-old jockey who was born in Roswell, grew up in Dexter and has been dominating big races in recent years put an exclamation point on his illustrious career Saturday, guiding Justify to the Triple Crown with a victory in the Belmont Stakes. There was a Hall-of-Fame trainer and a Hall-of-Fame jockey, side by side, sharing a moment and celebrating only the second horse to win the Triple Crown with an undefeated record.

According to Sports Illustrated, Baffert and Smith had partnered in 2002 on the horse Vindication.

Seattle Slew was unbeaten when it won the Triple Crown in 1977.

"I told him 'Hey, lately you've been watching me too much, you've been learning too much from me, '" Espinoza, who did not have a mount in Saturday's race, said. "If I trained the way I train him, I'd pass out". His owners and Baffert have connections to Audible, My Boy Jack and Solomini, who ultimately might not be entered in the Belmont because they could threaten Justify's chances of finishing off the Triple Crown. The 24-1 longshot Gronkowski got up for second, while Hofurg and Vino Rosso completed the superfecta. Gronkowski likely would have been even closer to Justify at the wire had he not shown his inexperience by failing to switch leads for a significant portion of the stretch run. "A bit of the greenness came out today, but he was also pushed today early on".

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He is averaging 9 assists per game, which leads his team and is the third most amongst players who participated in the playoffs. But it wasn't enough in a game where the Cavaliers just have to try to outscore the Warriors because they can't get stops.

Smith let Justify roll through a first quarter in:23.37, then subtly eased up the tempo to mark the half-mile in:48.11. Experience has made him wiser, he said. Justify brought only $1,000 more than his reserve price at the Keeneland auction where he was purchased.

The effort was enough to inspire optimism, however. But one of the biggest surprises of the race came when Gronkowski (the horse) finished in second place.

Sent off as the 4-5 favorite, Justify went to the lead out of the starting gate and led nine rivals around the track's sweeping turns on Saturday.

"He listens to me", Smith said.

"You asking me?" he said, nearly incredulously.

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No trainer now has won more Triple Crown races than Baffert's 15.

Justify was bred by John Gunther, of Langley, B.C., at Glennwood Farm in Versailles, Ky., which is run by his daughter, Tanya.

The $2 exacta paid $89, and the $1 trifecta paid $229.74. He became the 13th victor of the Triple Crown.

Justify accomplished a lot in a very short time. Finally, he was sent across the country to Baffert's stable, making his first start on February 18 of this year. His mounts have earned more than $310 million.

Smith told reporters, "I just want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for blessing us on this afternoon, and blessing us with this fantastic horse".

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Leading the charge was Stephen Curry , who was outstanding in posting 33 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Four teams - count 'em, four - have rallied from 0-2 Finals deficits to win the championship trophy.

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