Before Saturday's Belmont Stakes, which Justify won by 1¾ lengths over surprise second-place finisher Gronkowski in a 10-horse field, the massive chestnut colt with the white blaze had won the Kentucky Derby by a 2 /2-length margin, becoming the first since Apollo in 1882 to win the classic without running as a 2-year-old.
Sunday Silence was voted American Horse of the Year in 1989 despite losing to rival Easy Goer at Belmont.
"I told him 'Hey, lately you've been watching me too much, you've been learning too much from me, '" Espinoza, who did not have a mount in Saturday's race, said. They just knew his presence. "He was blowing pretty good, he got a good blow out of (the Preakness), but he wasn't as exhausted as we thought he was". I tell you, it's just awesome. "And I was nearly in tears, it's such an emotional experience", he said.
"You can't find these horses, they find you". Gallant Fox, Omaha and War Admiral accomplished the feat in the 1930s.
He became the first horse in 136 years to win the Kentucky Derby without having raced as a juvenile, then hung on in a surreal fog to win by a half-length in the Preakness three weeks ago. He moved ahead of D. Wayne Lukas (at 14) with this Triple Crown run.
"I wanted to see that horse's name up there", Baffert said.
Save for a news helicopter circling during training hours, the scene was as mellow as could be - three years between Triple Crown attempts will have such an effect.
"I think that people in the horse racing industry saw what we did and what we were able to do as far as making additional money".
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"I was just watching the clock".
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.
"One of the things that I thought was important that we were behind the eight-ball", said Walden. I knew this horse was doing well.
Justify went off as a prohibitive 3-5 favorite and paid $3.60, $3.50 and $2.80, becoming the first ever Triple Crown victor to defeat nine opponents at Belmont.
Hofburg paid $3.70 to show. "Even though the fractions were soft for a horse of his caliber, still he had to go a mile and a half". Whether he'll race more, no one would say.
But Justify found his own path.
"This horse ran a tremendous race, he's so gifted", Smith said.
Justify, unraced as a two-year-old, signalled his greatness with a Kentucky Derby victory on a rain-soaked Churchill Downs track in May. Once the horses come out of the final turn, they've still got a 1,097-yard (1,003 meters) run through the stretch, exhausting for a horse with little or no gas left in the tank.