As Triple Crown hopeful Justify looks to overcome drawing the worst possible location for the gate-break, squeezed by nine other challengers against the rail, will he become the 13th thoroughbred in horse racing history to claim the sport’s greatest glory in Saturday’s 150th Belmont Stakes?
The 1½ mile distance of the Belmont has long been a Triple Crown pesticide, giving more time for other horses to take advantage of the race leader’s fatigue and cross the wire first instead.
If Justify pulls it off, he’ll become the second all-three champion in four years after American Pharoah, setting up the possibility of another decade of rare-made-ordinary like Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978).
A 4-5 heavy favorite, the 3-year-old colt will break two spots away from his top rival, Bravazo, who despite trailing in the odds 7-1, finished a close second at the Preakness and is likely to give Justify the toughest run for the crown.
The front-runner’s rider, Mike Smith, won the Belmont in 2010 and 2013, but in his decorated career as a jockey has never included piloting of a Triple Crown horse. Justify would be trainer Bob Baffert’s second Triple Crown winner.
Broadcasters: Larry Collmus (race caller); Bob Costas and Mike Tirico (hosts); Randy Moss, Jerry Bailey and Eddie Olczyk (analysts); and Donna Brothers, Britney Eurton, Carolyn Manno, Laffit Pincay III and Kenny Rice (reporters)