Belmont Stakes 2018: Justify delivers Bob Baffert his second Triple Crown title in four years

Two Triple Crown horses in four years. That's Bob Baffert's enduring legacy after guiding Justify to the 13th Triple Crown title in American horse-racing history on Saturday at the Belmont Stakes just three years after leading American Pharoah to the same result and breaking a 37-year drought. 

Is Baffert the greatest horse trainer of all-time? He's certainly the greatest of the 21st century and in the running for G.O.A.T status, given his two transcendent Triple Crown horses. He becomes the second man to train  two Triple Crown winners, joining "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons in the annals of horse-racing history

Justify was also the fifth horse trained by Baffert to win the first two races of the Triple Crown, and those five Triple Crown attempts represent three more than any other trainer. Fitzsimmons won in 1930 with Gallant Fox and in 1935 with Omaha. Baffert won in 2015 with American Pharoah.

Justify jockey Mike Smith also made history on Saturday, winning his first Triple Crown and becoming the oldest jockey to do so at 52. 

After two weeks of hype and build-up, Justify crushed any doubts that he was a legendary horse by breaking early on Saturday out of the Belmont start gate to snatch the lead before pulling away down the back stretch to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Justify's wire-to-wire win on Saturday came after he trounced through the mud to win the wettest Kentucky Derby in history, then held on to win the Preakness Stakes in another muddy, wet race. 

Triumphant over Apollo's Curse at the Derby after not racing as a 2-year-old, Justify was up against nine other horses at the 2018 Belmont Stakes,  

After leading American Pharaoh to the the Triple Crown in 2015, snapping that 37-year-old drought, Baffert called his prize horse "the greatest horse I'll ever see." Does Justify's Triple Crown win change that thinking? 

Regardless, Baffert said that there's a major difference between his two legendary horses. 

"American Pharoah loved human contact," Baffert told the Louisville Courier-Journal. "He was a very sweet horse and is still very sweet. He loves people, will put his head in your lap. I'm probably closer to that horse because of his temperament.

"Justify, you can walk up to him and he might give you three, four, five seconds and then he's done with you. He'll try to bite your head off. It's not in a mean way. He's just a big, tough horse. He'll run you out of the stall."

To relive history in the making, check out the recap of Saturday's Belmont Stakes with our live blog below. If the stream isn't working for you, click here.


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