Baffert came into the year with 12 Triple Crown race wins before tying James "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons for second place with Justify's victory at the Kentucky Derby and then tying Lukas last month the Preakness. Billy Turner, his trainer, had to negotiate the colt's transition from shiny young object to a horse of classic depth and poise, and they never missed a note.
Coolmore Stud had already negotiated for a $60 million deal, but Justify's Triple Crown win was worth a $15 million bonus, turning the breeding fee into a record breaker.
Asked Saturday after the race about the idea of using Restoring Hope as a "wing man" out of the gates for Justify, Baffert downplayed it.
Five (1930, 1943, 1946, 1973 and 1977) of the 11 national championships in Fighting Irish football history have come in years there's been a Triple Crown victor. He isn't listed quite at even odds, but that could change by post time and it's hard to see him dropping much further than he is now.
Repole did say that his suspicions don't diminish his respect for the mighty Justify, just the 13th horse in history to win the Triple Crown.
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Florent Geroux - Restoring Hope's jockey - said that Restoring Hope's plan was independent of Justify's, and he had some trouble controlling the horse. Gronkowski finished second, 1 3/4 lengths back, and Hofburg was third.
Other Triple Crown winners include Sir Barton (1919), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948) and Secretariat (1973).
"This horse ran a tremendous race", said Smith, who at 52 is the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown.
The Triple Crown victor arrived at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on Monday for rest and relaxation. He left the stable barn and I was watching the other horses and they were all skittish and he walked up there just like King Kong. "And I am so happy for Mike Smith".
Justify's romp resulted in a quarter in 23.37, a half in 48.11 and six furlongs in 1:13.21, a fairly snappy pace for a mile and half horse race.
Justify did not begin his career until February 18 and won his first two starts easily at Santa Anita. "But I can see the stewards looking into this over the next couple of days".