Gronkowski the horse finishes second at Belmont Stakes

Belmont Stakes 2018: The 6 horses that are the best bets to upset Justify

Justify, as it turns out, is just that.

In addition to Bravazo, Kentucky Derby horses Hofburg, Vino Rosso and Free Drop Billy and Preakness horse Tenfold are among those likely to challenge Justify in what's considered the most hard race on the Triple Crown trail.

Justify battled nine rivals, the largest number that a potential Triple Crown victor has ever faced. Before Justify, the the last was American Pharoah in 2015.

Justify became the second undefeated Triple Crown victor after Seattle Slew in 1977, finishing first in a field of 10.

Baffert had steadily compared Justify to American Pharoah and was not surprised that Justify followed American Pharoah's lead with the same emphatic style of victory - wire to wire.

Baffert became the second trainer to win the Triple Crown twice.

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"Mike Smith, he deserves something like this", said Baffert, now one of only two trainers in history to saddle a pair of Triple Crown winners.

Few horses have ever come so far, so fast.

It seems only yesterday, but it was actually February 18 that Justify loudly announced his presence in roaring off to a 9 ½-length victory in his Santa Anita debut. Why can't one of these thoroughbreds just win three athletic competitions in a row?

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Baffert sensed he had a "monster" on his hands the first time he breezed the colt in January.

"This horse ran a tremendous race, he's so gifted", said Smith, who looked to the sky to celebrate after his ride.

"First and foremost, I want to thank my lord and savior, Jesus Christ, for blessing me with this wonderful day".

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Came from behind to win his second race at Santa Anita on March 11 by a comfortable 6-1/2 lengths.

Justify broadcast his rare talent to the wider world at Churchill Downs, where he transcended a driving rain and 19 challengers to win the Derby by 2 ½ lengths. American Pharoah brought in total prize money of $8.7 million-and after retiring, he has commanded a $200,000 fee for each healthy foal he sired.

The chestnut colt burst onto the national scene with a 2 1/2 -length victory on a sloppy track in the Derby.

A sore heel a day after that victory raised brief concerns, but two weeks later Justify dug deep at fog-shrouded Pimlico to claim the 1 3/16-mile Preakness.

Justify has won the Triple Crown.

He also faced questions he could not control.

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