Update: Justify become 13th Triple Crown winner
American Pharoah was the last horse to win the Triple Crown, capturing horse-racing’s storied trifecta in 2015. Prior to American Pharoah’s triumph, the drought between Triple Crown winners had been on unprecedented 37 years, when Affirmed bested Alydar in all three Triple Crown races in 1978. Secretariat ended the longest previous Triple Crown drought of 25 years in 1973 in winning the Belmont by an astonishing 31 lengths.
Before Justify won, 24/7 Wall St. has reviewed the 12 horses that have won the Triple Crown, according to Kentucky Derby’s comprehensive list.
The Belmont, the longest of the three Triple Crown races at 1.5 miles, is considered the true test of champions. Twenty-three times a horse has won the first two legs of the Triple Crown only to be denied horse racing’s ultimate glory by failing to win the Belmont Stakes in New York.
Justify is the overwhelming favorite to cover the Belmont course in first place. The thoroughbred won the 1 3/16-mile Preakness at Pimlico Race Course on May 19 by holding off Bravazo by a half-length on a muddy track. Two weeks earlier, the chestnut-colored colt won the 1.25-mile Kentucky Derby by 2.5 lengths over Good Magic, also on a sloppy course.
Justify established his dominance right from the start this year by winning his first three races by a combined 19 lengths. Justify was the first colt to win the Derby without racing as 2-year-old in 136 years.
Bob Baffert, who trained American Pharoah, also is the trainer of Justify. Baffert has won 14 Triple Crown races, equaling the all-time total of legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas. .
Justify’s jockey is Mike Smith, and at 52 years old he is still considered a big-money rider. Smith has seven Triple Crown race victories to his credit. Last year, he won 15 Grade 1 races, the most since he won 20 back in 1994.
Among the other horses scheduled to compete in the Belmont is Bravazo, who challenged Justify in the Preakness and was beaten by a half-length. Tenfold, who finished third at the Preakness, also is a probable at Belmont.