Matthew Herchik

Justify wins Belmont to become 13th Triple Crown champ

by Matthew Herchik on June 9, 2018 at 11:44 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Justify led all the way to win the Belmont Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths and become horse racing’s 13th Triple Crown champion and second in four years.

The Chestnut colt is the second undefeated colt to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont, improving to 6-0 in a racing career that began on Feb. 18. Seattle Slew was unbeaten when he won the triple crown in 1977.

Sent off as the 4-5 favorite, Justify went to the lead out of the starting gate and led nine rivals around the track’s sweeping turns on Saturday. He’s the first Triple Crown winner to face that many rivals in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont.

Bob Vaffert became the second trainer to win the Triple Crown twice. He did so with American Pharaoh in 2015, ending a 37-year drought.

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