Justify won the Triple Crown thanks to a wire-to-wire victory at the Belmont. Gronkowski gave him a run at the end, but was never quite in contention. The Gronk namesake finished second, and Hofburg came in third.
Justify entered the race as a 4/5 favorite to win. The big question heading into the Belmont was whether the horse could recover in time from a hard-fought battle at the Preakness to run his best at the longest race of the Triple Crown tour. Bob Baffert trained American Pharoah on his 2015 Triple Crown run, and was looking to do the same with Justify. Baffert was not pleased with Justify’s No. 1 post, but thought the horse was talented enough to overcome the draw.
“I never do like to draw the rail, but my horses seem to live in it,” Baffert admitted to ESPN. “We have it, we can’t change it. We’ll deal with it…It’s all you can hope for. He is on the inside, so he can sort of dictate what’s going to go, what’s happening.”
Turns out Baffert was right. Justify also had the benefit of racing on a clean course for the first time this Triple Crown season, and looked even more impressive. The horse shot out of the gate, and was never challenged in the 1.5 mile race.
Hall of Fame trainer Wayne Lukas believed Justify was too talented of a horse for his No. 1 post to have an impact on his performance.
“He is so talented, I think he can dictate the race,” Lukas told ESPN. “That is the thing that makes him very tough to beat. He can pick his spots. He is the key to how all of us run.”
Hofburg and Bravazo, who competed strong at the Preakness, were the two favorites to contend with Justify. Los Angeles Times John Cherwa noted there was a different feeling from when American Pharoah went for the Triple Crown.
Despite the media mob and the nonstop sound of cameras whirring, it was a different scene from three years ago, when American Pharoah arrived in the hopes of being the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.
The media contingent isn’t quite as big this year, maybe 30% smaller. The security around the barn is more accommodating. Trainer Bob Baffert seemed more relaxed and resigned to whatever outcome awaits Justify’s attempt to become the 13th winner of the Triple Crown on Saturday.
The excitement may not be quite the same, but Justify put his name in the record books just the same as American Pharoah. Many people at the Belmont will be framing a $2 bet on Justify. For those that chose to cash it in, they earned $3.60 on the $2 bet.
Here’s a look at the Belmont results and betting payouts.
Belmont Results 2018
|7.||Free Drop Billy|
Belmont Betting Payouts: Win, Place & Show
The following data is courtesy of NBC. It is based on a $2 bet. A $2 exacta (1-6) won $89.00, a $1 trifecta (1-6-4) earned $229.74 and a $1 superfecta (1-6-4-8) won $1,051.50.