Justify would break well again, taking the lead along the inside rails.
Several weeks later he competed in the second leg of the three-race trilogy, The Preakness, and won in dominant fashion despite heavy rain and mud slowing the field down.
"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".
His career in the American Classic races began in 1996, and in that time, he's amassed over 2800 wins in his career in the sport, which includes International Races. American Pharoah was in that invincible category until he lost the Travers Stakes in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., two months after winning the Belmont.
The two horses share a trainer in Bob Baffert, who the New York Times notes believes his prior champ could beat this most recent one. So when American Pharoah won the Triple Crown, the hoards of joyous horse racing fans shook Belmont Park, right outside New York City, to its core.
"His mechanics, his motion, just the way he did it. ..."
"I told Mike, "Welcome to the club". As he crossed the finish line, the racecaller exclaimed, "American Pharoah is finally the one!"
Hot on the heels of his wins in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, the unbeaten Bob Baffert-trained three-year-old passed the so-called "Test of the Champion" in the mile-and-a-half Belmont with flying colours.
However, Baffert has seen similarities in his stride, his growth and his potential. I think in each race I had the second-best horse and that's the way it went. "And this horse is getting there". Baffert, head turned, watched his handiwork in HD with a small smile that refused go away. "They're just superior horses", he added. "And I am so happy for Mike Smith". Smith has never been aboard a Triple Crown victor, but at 52 he has the shrewdness and knowledge from regularly riding at Belmont Park years ago to rely on. Experience has made him wiser, he said. It's an experience I will never forget and will be hard to top in the future. "So far he hasn't gotten overheated or get too anxious about things".
The win was also the greatest achievement of Smith's career, who was emotional when interviewed after the race.
"To do what he did in such a short time is unbelievable", Smith said of Justify. Trainers are looking for experienced riders to lead their thoroughbreds to victory, and no one knows horse racing better than Smith. "He's in his 50s acting like he's in his 20s".
"We want to race him, at least through this year", he said Sunday.
The pressure was intense and "Big Money Mike" reacted like a veteran.
Smith had made a point of saying before the Belmont that he didn't feel like he had done that much to be in the thoroughbred Hall of Fame. Gunther's daughter Tanya selected Justify's sire, Scat Daddy.
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