"It was going to be my friend or the enemy", Baffert said when asked about what other horses he was concerned about as the race developed.
The big, chestnut colt stood above the other horses with a commanding lead all the way through the homestretch Saturday in Elmont, N.Y. It was only his sixth race, and some bettors had anxious that he packed too many races into the 110 days leading up to the race, but it was no contest.
In capturing the Triple Crown, Justify also became the first horse to win the Belmont Stakes out of Post 1 since 2003, capturing his third victory in five weeks after two straight races out of Post 7. Justify is a top horse and he won the Triple Crown, and that's what horse racing is all about.
Meanwhile, it looks like Justify will have to win his first Triple Crown race on a fast track. Of those 35, only 12 have won The Run for the Carnations to complete the feat.
Baffert took American Pharoah to Saratoga in August 2015 and the Triple Crown victor was upset by Keen Ice in the Travers.
The chestnut colt is the second horse to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont, improving to 6-0 in a racing career that began on February 18. In fact, between American Pharoah's 2015 victory and Affirmed's Triple Crown in 1978, 13 horses took the first two races before losing the Belmont Stakes.
We now officially know what the "B" in IHOP's new name means
It's not yet clear when or if IHOP will change the signs at its restaurants, such as this one in Hialeah, Fla. The company is still being traded with the initials IHP, and says its selection of pancakes is here to stay.
American Pharoah was the last horse to win the Triple Crown, capturing horse-racing's storied trifecta in 2015. "You can't find horses like this; they find you". "Amazing. Just hope Eli Manning can do the same thing at 37". He has won all six races he has run this year. He stood so quietly in the starting gate that jockey Mike Smith wondered if he'd respond when it sprang open. I wanted to see that horse, his name up there with those greats. He has ridden such outstanding horses as Zenyatta, Royal Delta, Songbird, Shared Belief and Game On Dude, but riding Justify has taken him to a new level. Honestly, I felt a little bit guilty that I had a stud deal and he had to retire at end of his 3-year-old season. I think in each race I had the second-best horse and that's the way it went.
"Smith said that when he's mounted on his horse, he follows God just as he normally would". Horses whose pedigrees are based on speed rather than stamina are unlikely to run their best, never mind improve, going 1 ½ miles.
"It was meant to be", Baffert said.
Save for a news helicopter circling during training hours, the scene was as mellow as could be - three years between Triple Crown attempts will have such an effect. He said: "I'm so happy for Mike Smith, there's no one more deserving than him". When Sir Batton "won" the Triple Crown in 1919, the term was not even used yet.