Justify wins Belmont to become 13th Triple Crown champion

"This was more intense than the Derby, I don't know why", Mara, a part-owner of the Giants, told The Post after Justify won the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.

"Oh yeah", exclaimed Baffert with that fun-loving grin of his, "the king is back!"

Gronkowski took second place and Hofburg placed in third.

Not only did Justify's owner win the purses from all the races, they will also likely make millions from breeding the title-winning horse once he's through racing as well. The trainer of both Justify and American Pharaoh becomes just the second to ever win the Triple Crown twice - "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons also did it twice, with Gallant Fox and Omaha in the 1930s. "Had I known better, the first eighth of a mile I would have thought it was a quarter-horse race, not the mile-and-a-half Belmont".

A win for Justify would be Bob Baffert's second as a trainer. "I was going insane down the stretch".

Bob Baffert-trained Justify arrived in town on Wednesday ahead of his attempt to become the 13th horse to complete the triple crown, and the second in four years, after American Pharoah in 2015.

"They're two different type of horses, Pharoah and this guy", Baffert said after the Preakness.

His career in the American Classic races began in 1996, and in that time, he's amassed over 2800 wins in his career in the sport, which includes International Races. Justify was anything but typical. Honestly, I felt a little bit guilty that I had a stud deal and he had to retire at end of his 3-year-old season. The series of races last from the first week in May, until the first week in June. "He is a Triple Crown victor and he's undefeated", Repole told Tom Pedulla of the New York Post.

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Ridden by two-times Belmont Stakes winning jockey Mike Smith, Justify has drawn the inside barrier.

"He's just faster than these horses", Smith said succinctly and accurately.

The chestnut colt with the blaze running down his face appears to have rebounded well after victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, with the most exhausting still to come. It won the 2016 Belmont with Creator, trained by Steve Asmussen.

Baffert was referring to the incredible 111-day rush from Justify's maiden start at Santa Anita on February 18 through the three legs of the Triple Crown. He's got a brilliant mind, and for a powerful racehorse like him who has a mind of his own, he's still just eager to please. The California weather is very consistent. I wanted to see that horse, his name up there with those greats.

"It's been the longest, quickest journey", Baffert said Sunday. So when American Pharoah won the Triple Crown, the hoards of joyous horse racing fans shook Belmont Park, right outside New York City, to its core.

Still, as happy-go-lucky as he seemed before the race, Baffert was unusually emotional in his post-race television interview.

"It always helps", he said.

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