A combination of factors can help or hurt a horse, including a poor start, bad racing luck or jockey error.
The strapping chestnut colt, trained by Bob Baffert and rode by Mike Smith, broke well out of the gate and led the one-and-a-half-mile race from wire to wire, pulling away down the homestretch in a finishing time of 2:28.18 amid a deafening crescendo from the crowd of more than 90,000 at Belmont Park, the venerable race course just outside NY city limits.
In 2002, War Emblem almost fell to his knees when the starting gate sprang open, and Baffert knew the ornery colt was done.
All that remained was to prove that he had the toughness and resolve to conquer the longest, most grueling leg of the Triple Crown. Sometimes the term "legends of the turf" is used too loosely, but it seems nearly an understatement when it comes to the Belmont Stakes. "I will never know". Once the horses come out of the final turn, they've still got a 1,097-yard (1,003 meters) run through the stretch, exhausting for a horse with little or no gas left in the tank. "They let it go too easy".
Historically, deep closers have not fared well in the Belmont, so riders will seek to put their horses within a few lengths at the quarter pole.
"Why would you send a horse that breaks bad and take everybody out, then come back in?" the jockey questioned. Back in NY where he dominated in the 1990s, Smith took Justify on a walk past the packed grandstand, soaking in the cheers and giving the crowd a closer look at racing's newest hero. He said, 'He's standing good.
"The crowd was in excess of 100,000 so the noise was unbelievable and when they started to roar as he got near the finish it just got even louder".
With rain and mud a strong possibility again, in NY on Saturday, the question was which Justify would we see?
Justify ridden Mike Smith leads the field at the end of the back straight at Belmont Park. Pic AP
He is bidding to join Seattle Slew in 1977 as the only undefeated Triple Crown champions.
The 37-year-old Wallace was part of buying team that purchased Justify when China Horse Club was still relatively new to the North American yearling market.
Before the race, bettors gave Justify a 3-5 chance of winning, a clear favorite.
"Today he looked fantastic", Baffert said.
Justify isn't American Pharoah. Instead of thanking the horse's owner and the trainer, the very first thing he told NBC while being interviewed on horseback following the race, "First of all, I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ". "Once he enters the building, it'll be like Elvis".
Justify completed his Triple Crown with a win at the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, but trainer Bob Baffert might have given him an assist with his other horse in the race.
ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell writes that Saturday's victory in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes pushed the value of Triple Crown victor Justify to an all-time record $75 million.
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We know where it is because of the heat.' It's incredible the equipment we have, to be honest with you. He died days later on June 19, and it is still not known what exactly killed him.
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