2018 Belmont Stakes Results
The 150th running of the Belmont Stakes was historic, as Justify galloped his way into racing history as the 13th three-year-old to win the Triple Crown. Justify is now 6-for-6 in his career that started in February, and he is the second colt to be undefeated in winning the Triple Crown, joining Seattle Slew (1977).
Trainer Bob Baffert is also the second trainer in history to win two Triple Crowns, and he credited his talented colt and 52-year-old ironman jockey Mike Smith.
“Mike Smith deserves something like this,” Baffert said during the post-race presentations.
But it was Justify that ran the grueling 1 ½ mile race and proved to everyone that he could pass the “Test of the Champion.”
In front of a crowd of 90,000 fans at Belmont Park and millions more watching and wagering, Justify went off as the prohibitive 4-5 favorite and “broke from the gate like a Quarter Horse,” Smith said, striding to the lead through a brisk opening quarter in :23.37. Smith got Justify to settle and eased the tempo with his stablemate Restoring Hope also up front and Bravazo part of the early pace. The half mile went in :48.11 and Gronkowski was well back and last in the field. Justify went three quarters in 1:13.21 and began to inch away from the field with Hofburg trying to put a bid between horses and Vino Rosso asked for more run from jockey John Velazquez. Gronkowski made his move along the rail to become the late rallying horse to push Justify, but the added Belmont distance was a non-factor for the Triple Crown champion, who finished the 1 1/2 mile test on a fast track in 2:28.18.
Justify returned $3.60 to win and $3.50 to place as the 4-5 favorite while 24-1 longshot Gronkowski paid $13.80 to place. Hofburg was 3 ½ lengths behind the winner in third with Vino Rosso a close fourth. The $1 exacta returned $44.50 while a $1 trifecta Justify – Gronkowski – Hofburg paid $229.
Justify will be pointed towards the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs, perhaps his final race before the riches really begin as stud. Baffert will evaluate his colt in the weeks ahead with a well-deserved rest before mapping out his races over the summer months. An appearance in the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park or $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga is likely, so stay tuned as Justify continues his magnificent 3-year-old campaign and enjoy watching the 2018 Horse of the Year.
Below is the official order of finish for the 2018 Belmont Stakes:
4. Vino Rosso
7. Free Drop Billy
8. Restoring Hope
9. Blended Citizen
10. Noble Indy
2018 Belmont Stakes Runner Notes
A probable field of 11 horses is expected for the 2018 Belmont Stakes with Justify leading the way as a Triple Crown hopeful looking to chase down history. Two of his foes will be rematches from the Preakness, while six other horses will re-enter the series as previous Kentucky Derby runners. An additional two horses are considered new shooters.
Justify (1st Kentucky Derby & Preakness Stakes)
Two down, one to go. Justify is the expected heavy favorite in the Belmont Stakes and will need the best that Bob Baffert can provide in order to bounce back from a challenging Preakness performance where he found runners coming on late while approaching the finish line. Though Justify will be only one of two horses to compete in all three legs of the Triple Crown by Belmont time, questions remain with his racing career starting in February of 2018. The talent is there. The opportunity is waiting. Justify could very well be a Triple Crown champion come Belmont.
Bravazo (2nd Preakness Stakes)
Some would argue Bravazo was overlooked in his previous Classic starts, but the well-coached Thoroughbred routinely delivers positive results. Bravazo not only finished as the runner-up to Justify in the Preakness where he was a 20/1 longshot, but was a deceptively good 6th in the Kentucky Derby, despite 50/1 odds. It seems more and more that the 8th place finish in the Louisiana Derby was an outlying performance. The oddsmakers are done taking him lightly, as is the betting public. The fact that he will compete in all three legs of the Triple Crown considering how he was rated heading into the Triple Crown series is noteworthy.
Tenfold (3rd Preakness Stakes)
Few horses had a stock increase as rapid as Tenfold in the Preakness Stakes, and he showed flashes of brilliance during a stellar homestretch burst where he caught Good Magic at the wire for third overall. Whether he can tackle the longer distance remains to be seen, but he’s shown the ability to pursue Justify.
Vino Rosso (9th Kentucky Derby)
The Wood Memorial winner was given fair consideration at the Kentucky Derby but didn’t perform at his best, which could be a result of the track and weather conditions. However, Vino Rosso was trending in the right direction with his prep-races and works prior the First Saturday in May. An additional five weeks of training could very well put him back near the winner’s circle.
Hofburg (7th Kentucky Derby)
Considering the conditions on Kentucky Derby day, Hofburg performed really well in the slop with his seventh-place finish which was well behind Justify. As a son of Tapit, Hofburg will receive consideration as he skips the Preakness to possibly start in the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park.
Free Drop Billy (16th Kentucky Derby)
While Free Drop Billy has many fans, he had a lackluster performance in the Kentucky Derby. It’s fair to chalk up his worrying sixteenth place finish to the weather at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby day, but questions arise about his ability to hit the Belmont distance. A lot will need to go right for him in the weeks leading up to the 2018 Belmont Stakes. His last stakes victory was the 2017 Breeders’ Futurity last October.
Gronkowski (1st Burrdaon)
The name-sake and fan favorite will finally make his Triple Crown debut after missing the Kentucky Derby due to an unfortunately timed illness. He was a borderline 23/1 odds longshot for the Kentucky Derby, an odds line that was bet down because of fervent support given news NFL star Rob Gronkowski was buying a stake in the talented runner.
Blended Citizen (1st Peter Pan)
The Doug O’Neill trainee also finished fifth in the Blue Grass Stakes after winning the rebranded Jeff Ruby Steaks (pun intended), formerly the Spiral Stakes. Blended Citizen skipped the Kentucky Derby on May 5th and the Preakness Stakes on May 19th to race in the Peter Pan Stakes held on the weekend between the Classics. He posted his fastest speed rating with his Peter Pan effort, but questions still exist if he will have enough speed to contend at Belmont Park.
Noble Indy (1st Louisiana Derby)
Noble Indy returns to the track for the first time since his 17th place finish in the Kentucky Derby May 5th. The Todd Pletcher son of Take Charge Indy has worked steadily during his time off and is hopeing for a big bounce back in the Belmont.
Restoring Hope (3rd Wood Memorial)
Traditionally under the guidance of jockey Mike Smith, trainer Bob Baffert will need to acquire another jockey talent for Gary and Mary West's homebred Restoring Hope. Finishing 12th in the Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs last out and his prior start being the Wood Memorial, finishing third, Restoring Hope has a lot of work to do. Hitting the board in four of five starts, yet only having a win in a Maiden Special Weight at Santa Anita, Restoring Hope will need his best performance ever to hit the board in the Belmont Stakes.