Triple Crown winners: Justify becomes lucky No. 13 on elite list of greatest horses in American history

Justify refused to be denied. The undefeated thoroughbred became the 13th horse to win the American Triple Crown on Saturday at the Belmont Stakes, grabbing the hole shot out of Post 1 and never giving up the lead. 

The American Triple Crown of horse racing is one of the most illustrious achievements in sports. To win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in the span of about a month is a titanic feat for any horse. In 2018, there's a legitimate possibility that we may get our second Triple Crown winner in four years, as Justify looks to become the first horse since American Pharaoh in 2015 to win all three Jewels of the Triple Crown consecutively after winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes on muddy tracks. 

American Pharaoh became the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to take all three races in 2015, snapping a 37-year drought. Justify already broke the Apollo Curse by winning the Derby after not racing as a 2-year-old, which went on for 135 years.

Here are all 13 Triple Crown winners, with the first coming in 1919. 

Previous Triple Crown winners

  • 1919: Sir Barton
  • 1930: Gallant Fox
  • 1935: Omaha
  • 1937: War Admiral
  • 1941: Whirlaway
  • 1943: Count Fleet
  • 1946: Assault
  • 1948: Citation
  • 1973: Secretariat
  • 1977: Seattle Slew
  • 1978: Affirmed
  • 2015: American Pharaoh
  • 2018: Justify

Is Bob Baffert the greatest trainer of all-time after training two Triple Crown winners in four years? 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, per the Associated Press.

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 win the Triple Crown at 52. 

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