"He could have won every race on the undercard today".
In providing a second Triple Crown in a span of three years, however, Justify has done his part to make the achievement mainstream once again.
While Justify and Mike Smith, his Hall of Fame rider, smoothly accelerated after breaking from the rail to seize the early lead, Geroux rode vigorously to hustle Restoring Hope toward the front. A wall featured two new signs, one proclaiming Justify's achievement below another for American Pharoah.
"I have no earthly idea what Florent was thinking or what his race strategy was", he said in an email response to a request for an interview. He's just an unbelievable horse. The chestnut son of Scat Daddy was greeted by his usual throng of media attention, but remained unfazed in the hands of trainer Bob Baffert's top assistant Jimmy Barnes. Free Drop Billy and Vino Rosso finished 9th and 17th in the Derby, respectively.
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Forbes has estimated that once retired, Justify could demand an initial $100,000 stud fee - giving him a $60 million value based exclusively on breeding fees if he were to cover 150 mares per breeding season for four years.
Belmont second-place finisher Gronkowski, owned by Phoenix Thoroughbred III, made his North American debut in the race for owner Phoenix Thoroughbred III. His rare sweep included a 2 1/2-length victory in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) and a hard-fought half-length win in the Preakness Stakes (G1). Seattle Slew was unbeaten when he won the Triple Crown in 1977.
At 6-0, he's the second undefeated Triple Crown victor; he's the first to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont without racing at age 2; and he's the only horse to beat nine rivals in the Belmont with a Triple try on the line.
The Kentucky Derby is run annually on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. He said, "He'll probably just be taking it easy. He looked like a bodyguard making sure nobody got close to Justify". He isn't listed quite at even odds, but that could change by post time and it's hard to see him dropping much further than he is now. "But I can see the stewards looking into this over the next couple of days".