The Belmont, the longest of the three Triple Crown races at 1.5 miles, is considered the true test of champions. A crowd capped at 90,000 is expected at Belmont Park. Justify has now raced six times in 112 days, and has come out the other side of the Triple Crown unscathed.
Gronkowski had never raced on dirt, had never raced farther than a mile, qualified but didn't run in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) because he spiked a fever, switched trainers before the race, and only had two published works ahead of the most hard start of his career. By today's standards, that is still a lot of racing packed into a relatively short period. "But if you win the Triple Crown you become a legend and that is what he is now".
While nobody's denying that this is a special horse, and the feat he accomplished was incredible, I do believe that many underestimate how incredible.
A win for Justify would be Bob Baffert's second as a trainer.
When American Pharoah won the Triple Crown in 2015, America hadn't seen one in 37 years.
Justify will be trying to become thoroughbred racing's 13th Triple Crown victor. 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.
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"It is such a surreal feeling and one that I'm still trying to take in", he said. A sore heel a day after that victory raised brief concerns, but two weeks later Justify dug deep at fog-shrouded Pimlico to claim the 1 3/16-mile Preakness.
"The whole time he was so professional", Smith said of Justify after the race.
"I told him I loved him", he said. The only other unbeaten Triple Crown victor was Seattle Slew in 1977.
Justify became the 13th horse in history to win USA racing's coveted Triple Crown with an electrifying triumph in the 150th Belmont Stakes on Saturday. Justify is also running on the inside post, where no horse has won the Belmont since 1997. Now, it's up to the undefeated colt and some racing luck to add his name to a revered list of Triple Crown winners. "He is sent from heaven, I tell you". "This horse, I'm sure there was millions of people screaming at their TV wanting to see it done".
Justify's dominance in a 10-horse field that included Preakness runnerup Bravazo and Derby horses Hofburg (who finished third), Vino Rosso and Free Drop Billy moved Baffert to tears afterward, as his thoughts turned to his late parents and friends he has lost, convinced they've somehow been helping him these past years.
The Patriots, of course, were victim to the Giants in both Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI, where tight end Rob Gronkowski just narrowly missed hauling in a hail mary on the final play of the game.