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