Justify wins Triple Crown with victory at Belmont

Business magnate George Soros arrives to speak at the Open Russia Club in London Britain

Justify, bred by Langley, B.C.'s John Gunther, took the Belmont Stakes by one-and-three quarter lengths today on Saturday.

Racing fans waited 37 years for a Triple Crown victor to succeed Affirmed. Fitzsimmons added to his legend with Gallant Fox (1930) and Omaha (1935). The two horses share the same trainer in Bob Baffert. In defeating nine foes in the Belmont Stakes, he turned back the largest field to challenge a potential Triple Crown victor, yet another element that allows him to stand alone.

Sent out favourite, the colt was barely pushed as he led all the way to complete the 1-1/2 mile (2400m) course in overcast but dry conditions at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York.

Bravazo is "a tough little horse, and I think his pedigree will let him run that far", trainer D. Wayne Lukas said.

The reality is the race Gronkowski ran would win quite a few Belmonts, even though the third leg of the Triple Crown is thought to be unkind to deep closers and hasn't produced a last-to-first victor since Jazil in 2006. 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.

First, he won the Kentucky Derby without having raced as a 2-year-old.

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Mike Smith, at 52, is the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown.

Justify defied the hard post position along the rail, breaking well and taking the lead within seconds.

At that point, Gronkowski was charging from the back of the pack, and he was able to run a stellar race and finish second.

Hofburg, who finished in seventh place at the Kentucky Derby and didn't compete in the Preakness, has only won once in four races but came in second at the Florida Derby.

"I'm grateful to have a horse like this, to have the opportunity to be here, to make history like this is an incredible feeling", Baffert said. He stood so quietly in the starting gate that jockey Mike Smith wondered if he'd respond when it sprang open. "I mean, he left like he was going 440 yards in Ruidoso, New Mexico!" He managed to hold off Restoring Hope, a longshot (also owned by Baffert) who pulled into second early on and a late push from Brovazo.

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