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Justify wins Belmont to become 13th Triple Crown champ

Justify wins Belmont to become 13th Triple Crown champ
Posted at 4:09 PM, Jun 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-09 21:57:32-04

Justify led all the way to win the Belmont Stakes by 1¾ lengths and become horse racing's 13th Triple Crown champion and second in four years.

The chestnut colt is the second undefeated colt to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont, improving to 6-0 in a racing career that began on Feb. 18. Seattle Slew was unbeaten when he won the Triple Crown in 1977.

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's the first Triple Crown winner to face that many rivals in the 1½-mile Belmont.

Bob Baffert, a Nogales native and University of Arizona alum, became the second trainer to win the Triple Crown twice. He did so with American Pharoah in 2015, ending a 37-year drought.

"It's very emotional for me," said a choked up Baffert, who was remembering his deceased parents. "Justify is a brilliant, superior horse."

At 52, Mike Smith is the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown.

Gronkowski, named after former Wildcat football player Rob Gronkowski, came in second. The Patriots star owns a minority stake in the horse.