With his front-running win, Justify became thoroughbred racing's 13th Triple Crown victor.
The big chestnut colt burst onto the national scene with a victory in the Kentucky Derby.
The first horse to load in the gate, Justify stayed so still and steady as the other nine followed suit that Smith anxious for a moment that he might not break at all.
Smith, who kept looking at the replay of his own performance while fielding questions from the media, admitted that he was anxious about how calm Justify stood in the gate.
"It definitely seemed to me he was more of an offensive lineman than a racehorse trying to win the Belmont, and Justify was a running back trying to run for a touchdown". "I thought maybe he's not going to break today".
"That whole Triple Crown thing".
"What an incredible experience, my heart was pounding and I had to sit down", said Gunther, who witnessed Justify's historic run at Belmont Park.
The 24-1 long-shot Gronkowski battled from the back of the pack to cross the line second, nearly two length's behind Justify, while the 5-1 Hofburg finished third. Baffert has won 14 Triple Crown races, equaling the all-time total of legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas. "He even looked like he added a few pounds from the Preakness, I mean, this horse just recovers so amazingly quick".
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Even so, Justify enjoyed a dry track on Saturday and led the race from start to finish.
There's a reason Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith is in demand when owners and trainers pick riders for the elite in thoroughbred racing.
Five weeks earlier, it was Good Magic who finished second behind Justify in the Kentucky Derby. Justify, unraced as a two-year-old, signalled his greatness with a Kentucky Derby victory on a rain-soaked Churchill Downs track in May. Horses whose pedigrees are based on speed rather than stamina are unlikely to run their best, never mind improve, going 1 ½ miles. Many sports fans have just a passing interest in horse racing, only tuning in during May and June, when a Triple Crown's on the line. "A Triple Crown victor is rare enough; an undefeated Triple Crown victor is rarer still".
Being that valuable might make it hard for the horse to get back on the track again, though ownership seemed optimistic after the win that it was possible.
Justify has won all six of his career starts, four at grade one level.
The win marks the second Triple Crown for Justify's coach, trainer Bob Baffert, in just three years - he also won in 2015 with American Pharoah. "He's so gifted. He's sent from heaven". He took a nap during the long 13-race card. Does Justify's Triple Crown win change that thinking? He didn't compete as a 2-year-old.
Justify returned $3.60 to win, $3.50 to place, and $2.80 to show.
The Patriots, of course, were victim to the Giants in both Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI, where tight end Rob Gronkowski just narrowly missed hauling in a hail mary on the final play of the game.