Justify, Baffert eye Triple Crown glory at Belmont Stakes
Bob Baffert hopes Justify can gallop into US thoroughbred racing’s hall of fame on Saturday when he bids to become the 13th horse in history to complete the Triple Crown at the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes.
A victory for the unbeaten threeyear-old at Belmont Park would complete a remarkable season for Justify, who has already stormed to victory in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
It would also ensure immortality for California-based Baffert, who would become only the second trainer in history to win two Triple Crowns after Jim Fitzsimmons achieved the feat in 1930 and 1935.
Baffert, who successfully guided American Pharoah to the treble in 2015, insists however he is not interested in personal glory ahead of this weekend’s race on Long Island.
“At Belmont I want to win for the horse,” Baffert told reporters. “I want Justify to be up there with those great horses. “It’s not about [ jockey] Mike Smith or Bob Baffert, it’s about Justify. Because he’s the one doing all the work. I want to see his name up there.”
If Justify is to take his place in the equine pantheon, he will have to do it the hard way. The 4-5 favorite drew the rail at Tuesday’s draw, meaning he’ll need to make a fast start out of the gate or risk being caught in traffic.
“I never like to draw the rail,” Baffert said immediately after the draw.
“But we have it, we can’t change it, and we have to deal with it.”
Baffert’s mood has improved since Justify arrived at Belmont Park this week, where he has been “floating” over the track in training.
“It looked like he took to the track really well,” Baffert said. “He was happy.”
Baffert reported that the horse’s testy temperament remained intact.
“He bit me a couple of days ago while I was walking him,” he said.