For Justify Jockey Mike Smith, Sharing Triple Crown With Mom 'Meant Everything'

Elena Summers
June 15, 2018

Collmus' thrilling call of the 150th Belmont STAKES on NBC, watched by 15.3 million television viewers in the 6:45-7 p.m. ET quarter hour, was also heard throughout Belmont Park and cheered by the 90,000+ in attendance, as Justify became only the second horse in history to remain unbeaten in running to a Triple Crown (Seattle Slew, 1977).

Each of them received a special cover design, with Justify's edition pairing up next to a headline that he "joins the immortals". He also faced the largest Belmont field of any of the 13 Triple Crown champions.

"I wanted to see that horse's name up there (with the other greats) because we know he was brilliant from day one", he told reporters.

Though Gronkowski didn't come out victorious, Gronk said it was cool feel even closer to the race as a part-owner.

A combination of factors can help or hurt a horse, including a poor start, bad racing luck or jockey error.

Where does his run through the classics compare with American Pharoah's in 2015?

Justify won the Belmont on Saturday by 1¾ lengths over 24-1 shot Gronkowski after winning the Kentucky Derby by 2½ lengths and the Preakness by a half-length.

Although Justify had proven himself a victor, on a rain soaked course in the Kentucky Derby and the fog laden Preakness, he proved himself able in idea racing conditions at the Belmont Stakes Park in Elmont, New York on Saturday evening as well.

It's incredibly hard for a thoroughbred to win three high-stress races in just five weeks as the animals have never raced that frequently before and won't again. While I am grateful to Justify for anchoring a weekend of a lifetime, he is just one of many members of the racing world, both human and equine, who remind me every day that I am so very lucky to be a part of this industry. Horses and riders aren't used to 1-1/2-mile races in the United States where the focus is on sprinting.

Smith discussed how he handled Justify at the Preakness and Belmont. He did and led wire-to-wire. Since then, he's run in more than 33,000 races and won almost 5,500, as his horses have purse earned more than $300 million. "But if he's acting like he needs a little more time, then [trainer Bob Baffert will] wait on him". Collmus' race call alone accounted for more than 5 million video views. Bob Baffert, the same for Justify. But I'm telling you, as of right now, I went to see him at the race the day after and he had a mouthful of grain.

Justify closed as a 4-5 betting favorite.

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