Justify wins Triple Crown; Gronkowski the horse gets second

George Soros

Justify has won all six stakes races he has run. He's massive, and racing fans have hardly seen him break a sweat through the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Gallant Fox, Omaha and War Admiral accomplished the feat in the 1930s.

At the Belmont hanging with Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and Winstar Farms owner Kenny Troutt and his wife Lisa. He burnished his reputation by defeating nine rivals, the most faced by any Triple Crown champion. 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.

While the deal might seem rich, sources said Coolmore would make it up by breeding in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, making the horse capable of breeding at least 250 times in his first year.

Baffert was quick to pay tribute to 52-year-old Smith, for whom it was a first Triple Crown success.

Justify has already done more than expected, a bit of a late bloomer who doesn't have the pedigree of someone like American Pharoah.

"It was by far his hardest race", his jockey Mike Smith said at the time.

The second-place result was a pleasant surprise for the tight end and his team, given that Gronkowski missed both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes due to illness and that the No. 6 horse finished with 24-1 odds to win.

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The suited and booted side were drawn in Group D alongside the Balkan nation, Iceland and old World Cup foes Argentina. Arsenal's Alex Iwobi (front-right) and Leicester's Wilfred Ndidi (third from right, back row) modelled the kits.

At that point, Gronkowski was charging from the back of the pack, and he was able to run a stellar race and finish second.

Justify defied the hard post position along the rail, breaking well and taking the lead within seconds.

Seattle Slew's Triple Crown - four years after that of Secretariat, was swiftly followed by Affirmed's in 1978.

"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. I tell you, it's just unbelievable.

Being that valuable might make it hard for the horse to get back on the track again, though ownership seemed optimistic after the win that it was possible.

Trainer Todd Pletcher also had two horses in the field - 8-1 Vino Rosso and 30-1 Noble Indy.

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