Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

The Kiwi behind triple crown victor Justify

The Kiwi behind triple crown victor Justify

Now owned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Starlight Racing and Head of Plains Partners, Justify defeated former United Kingdom galloper Gronkowski by just on two lengths with Hofburg back in third.

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By winning the Derby, Justify broke the dreaded Apollo Curse, becoming the first horse to win that race after not starting as a two-year-old since Apollo did in 1882.

"It was a steep learning curve for me personally when we started buying horse in the U.S. market because it was all new to us", said Wallace from the Belmont track. "It was the day of lifetime to be here and see him make history, and he will be coming to Australia".

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Baffert, 65, became the second trainer to win two Triple Crowns, joining the late James "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons, whose triumphs came in 1930 and '35 with Gallant Fox and Omaha, respectively. It was a narrow victory, and some feared the 1 1/2-mile Belmont would be a stretch too far for the big chestnut colt.

He became the first horse in 136 years to win the Kentucky Derby without having raced as a juvenile, then hung on in a surreal fog to win by a half-length in the Preakness three weeks ago. A talented but inexperienced colt, Hofburg finished second to Audible in the Florida Derby on March 31, which was his stakes debut. "And I thought maybe, because I could see Gronkowski flying, but he just couldn't get to that horse".

"Only two Triple Crown winners have ever been bought at public auction and to think we are all involved in one of them is remarkable".

Post time for Saturday's big event from Belmont Park (New York City) is slated for 6:37 p.m. EST. Instead of thanking the horse's owner and the trainer, the very first thing he told NBC while being interviewed on horseback following the race, "First of all, I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ".

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Their strides and running styles are comparable, Baffert said, adding that they both had similar struggles in their races leading up to the Belmont event.

At 52, Smith became the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown. Turning for home with a date with immortality awaiting him in the winner's circle, Justify bounded home with Gronkowski (Lonhro ) giving belated chase to the wire.

Restoring Hope, also trained by Baffert, ran interference for the champion while traveling second and deterring any threats by forcing them to go extremely wide. You know, I was meant to get this horse. Vino Rosso made a move to get within a length of Justify but never improved.

Among those expected to be on hand is New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. Restoring Hope spent much of the race just behind the eventual victor and to his outside, though never passed him.

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