Justify's Triple Crown win pushes breeding rights fee to $75 million

ImageJustify ridden by Mike Smith began his Triple Crown bid by winning the Kentucky Derby on May

ImageJustify ridden by Mike Smith began his Triple Crown bid by winning the Kentucky Derby on May

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.

When Justify went to the post Saturday at the Belmont Stakes in NY, he had a chance to become the 13th Triple Crown victor in the sport's history. Only Seattle Slew in 1977 was also an undefeated Triple Crown champion.

Sent off as the 4-5 favorite, Justify went to the lead out of the starting gate.

With his Triple Crown victory Saturday, Justify became the most valuable horse in racing history.

The previous horse to complete the Triple Crown had been American Pharoah in 2015, who was also trained by Bob Baffert. If he pulls it off, he'll become the 13th thoroughbred in history to do so and only the second since 1978 when American Pharoah took the title in 2015.

Jockey Jose Ortiz rode the rail through the final turn of the 1 1/2-mile test, angled out, and loomed behind Justify, ready to break plenty of hearts.

Justify, unraced as a two-year-old, signalled his greatness with a Kentucky Derby victory on a rain-soaked Churchill Downs track in May. Four of Justify's rivals have been resting since the Kentucky Derby a month ago: Free Drop Billy (16th), Hofburg (seventh), Noble Indy (17th) and Vino Rosso (ninth). "But the thing that has me a bit anxious is the last horse to win the Belmont drawing the rail was Empire Maker in 2003 - in a six-horse field". I knew this horse was doing well.

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Gronkowski finished second in the race.

"He listens to you - to everything I do", Smith said.

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

Baffert credited his team of assistants for doing an outstanding job of preparing Justify for the grueling three-race, five-week grind.

Baffert joined "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons as the only trainers to produce two Triple Crown winners.

"This never gets old", an emotional Baffert said after the race.

Gronkowski, a 24-1 shot trained by Chad Brown and part-owned by New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski, came from well back to finish second under jockey Jose Ortiz.

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