Triple Crown and Belmont Stakes contender Justify trains with Humberto Gomez up prior to the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 8. And Baffert, 65, pulled ahead of longtime friend and rival trainer D. Wayne Lukas, 82, to claim sole possession of a record 15 wins in Triple Crown races (five Kentucky Derbys, seven Preakness States and three Belmont Stakes). It marks the third time since 2014 that a horse and jockey has a chance to win the Triple Crown, though American Pharoah in 2015 was the last team to accomplish the feat.
Baffert became just the second trainer to win two Triple Crowns, following James "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons, who won all three races with the father-son pair of Gallant Fox (1930) and Omaha (1935). He did so with American Pharoah in 2015, ending a 37-year drought.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
Justify's stunning rise puts him in the pantheon of great horses.
As a general rule, jockeys get 10% of the prize money for races in which their horses win or place.
"I nearly collapsed when he went across the wire, it took all my breath away", he said. The next best choices were 6-1 odds shared by Bravazo and Hofburn.
He won the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville on May 5, becoming the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the "Run for the Roses" without a start as a two-year-old, breaking the so-called "Curse of Apollo".
"I've never had a horse work like him", Baffert said of Justify earlier this week. The combination of WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and other partners may have different ideas for Justify's return race, assuming there is one.
Being that valuable might make it hard for the horse to get back on the track again, though ownership seemed optimistic after the win that it was possible.
And the horse proved his trainer prescient, winning a Triple Crown with a mesmerizing and dominant victory at the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.