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Justify completes Triple Crown with win at Belmont Stakes

Sixteen weeks ago, no one knew what to make of Justify — except Hall of Fame horse racing trainer Bob Baffert.

He knew in February that the 3-year-old chestnut colt, who had yet to run a race, was something special.

After the horse won its first two races, he knew Justify was an amazing raw talent, capable of history.

And the horse proved his trainer prescient, winning a Triple Crown with a mesmerizing and dominant victory at the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.

Justify defied the difficult post position along the rail, breaking well and taking the lead within seconds. None of the other nine horses had a chance to catch him.

The 4-5 favorite handled the 1.5-mile distance easily, and though runner-up Gronkowski was less than 2 lengths back, Justify never looked in danger of losing.

“I was just watching the clock. 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 trainer said he worried again when Justify made a move forward in the final turn.

But Justify, like all the great thoroughbreds, found “another gear,” Baffert said. Justify won in 2:28.18, well off the record time of 2:24, run by Secretariat in 1973.

Baffert, who has won more Triple Crown races than anyone, also trained Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2015. He refused comparisons between the two horses, saying they are different types of racers.

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