Sport

Mike Smith, 52, becomes oldest jockey to win Triple Crown

Mike Smith, 52, becomes oldest jockey to win Triple Crown

After all, only 12 horses have won it in close to 150 years of these races. It has been the stop for all of the great racing legends, from Belair Stud, Sam Riddle and Greentree Stable to the greats, "Sunny" Jim Fitzsimmons and Woody Stephens.

"(Justify) was showing me the same signs (as American Pharoah)", Baffert told NBC Sports after the race. "He's sent from heaven".

Justify became the 13th thoroughbred to win horse racing's Triple Crown.

Justify has to overcome the No. 1 post position and Baffert will be watching closely to see if the colt breaks cleanly from the gate.

"Yeah, I belong now", said Smith, who ripped carnations from the garland of flowers draped on Justify after the race and tossed them in the air to celebrate. The last time there were two Triple Crown champions in the same decade was the 1970s, which produced Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed.

"This horse ran a tremendous race, he's so gifted", said Mike Smith, who at 52 is the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown.

Smith said Justify was so calm in the gate that he was anxious he might not break.

We can't wait to see Gronkowski's next athletic feat - both human and horse.

Forbes has estimated that once retired, Justify could demand an initial $100,000 stud fee - giving him a $60 million value based exclusively on breeding fees if he were to cover 150 mares per breeding season for four years.

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Justify is 5-0 in a career that began with his first race in February.

Justify won the 1.5-mile race by 1.75 lengths, with Gronkowski and Hofburg finishing in second and third.

Justify is taking on nine rivals, the largest number that a potential Triple Crown victor has ever faced. "I went back to look at (the footage) after I read that, I've checked it several times".

"Pharoah made so many people feel good", Baffert said. Smith slowed the pace midway around the 1 1/2-mile track but maintained a two-length lead heading into the backstretch. "They let it go too easy".

There were mild bids turning for home.

Those are the concerns, but for betting purposes, I truly think Justify is a freak of a horse and will contend in this race. Vino Rosso, one of the few perceived threats to Justify's quest for glory, commenced his move through the far turn, and for a moment, the tension could have been cut with a razor. Baffert fell short the first three times he brought a horse to Belmont with a chance at the Triple Crown - with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002). Justify pulled away down the 1,097-yard stretch in front of screaming fans with only 24-1 shot Gronkowski picking off a half-dozen rivals in taking up the chase down the lane. "And I am so happy for Mike Smith". "He was showing me the brilliance, superior horse".

The horse named for a certain tight end competed in Belmont Stakes this weekend, and he wasn't the only wasn't the only Gronk in NY. It shows a horse eating the flowers off a women's hat and the jockey reimbursing her in the winner's circle with Quick Pay.

Completing the order of finish after Vino Rosso were Tenfold, Bravazo, Free Drop Billy, Restoring Hope, Blended Citizen and Noble Indy.


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