With a breathtaking, wire-to-wire tour de force under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, undefeated Justify became racing's 13th Triple Crown winner at Belmont Park, sweeping to a 1 ¾-length victory over Gronkowski to add the 150th running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets to his triumphs in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
The victory over Belmont Park's sweeping 1 ½-mile oval was the sixth straight for Justify, who joined Seattle Slew - also a wire-to-wire Belmont winner in 1977 - as the only undefeated winners of the Triple Crown. All six of the rangy chestnut colt's wins have come in 2018, beginning with a maiden victory on February 18 at Santa Anita Park and culminating just shy of 16 weeks later in the Belmont.
The China Horse Club was founded in 2013 by Teo Ah Khing, a Malaysian-born architect and entrepreneur who designed Meydan Racecourse in Dubai. His group began racing in the U.S. two years ago, and won the 2017 Kentucky Oaks with Abel Tasman. CHC also has ownership in Audible and Quip. Head of Plains Partners LLC is operated by Sol Kumin, a hedge fund manager who bought into Justify and Audible in March. Among horses he has ownership in are Kentucky Oaks winner Monomoy Girl, Exaggerator and Lady Eli. Starlight Racing is a racing syndicate run by Louisville, Kentucky resident Jack Wolf that includes Giants executive Chris Mara. In March, the group bought an interest in both Justify and Audible. WinStar Farm is owned by Dallas-based telecommunications executive Kenny Troutt, with third-generation horseman Elliott Walden serving as president/CEO. The racing and breeding operation started in 2000 and produced 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, and also owned 2010 Belmont Stakes and 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Drosselmeyer, and 2016 Belmont winner Creator in partnership with Bobby Flay.
Hall of Famer Bob Baffert won three straight Eclipse Awards as Outstanding Trainer (1997-99) and took home a fourth in 2015 after molding Horse of the Year American Pharoah into the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. In 2018, he became only the second trainer to win the Triple Crown twice (Jim Fitzsimmons trained 1930 winner Gallant Fox and 1935 winner Omaha). Prior to American Pharoah, Baffert came tantalizingly close with Kentucky Derby/Preakness Stakes winners Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002). In 2001, Point Given won the Preakness, Belmont Stakes and Travers.
The Hall of Fame rider became a Triple Crown winner in 2018 at age 53. He won the Belmont Stakes twice before, with Drosselmeyer in 2010 and Palace Malice in 2013. Also on his resume is a Kentucky Derby win aboard Giacomo in 2005 and a Preakness victory with Prarie Bayou in 1993. Among the champions he’s ridden are Arrogate, Zenyatta, Songbird, Royal Delta, Shared Belief, Skip Away and Holy Bull. He’s won more than 5,400 races in his career with earnings of nearly $312 million.