Justify wins Belmont to become 13th Triple Crown champ

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ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell writes that Saturday's victory in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes pushed the value of Triple Crown victor Justify to an all-time record $75 million.

The big chestnut colt with the appetite to match burst onto the national scene with a 2?-length victory on a sloppy track in the Derby.

"Why would you send a horse that breaks bad and take everybody out, then come back in?" the jockey questioned.

Justify didn't start racing until turning 3 years old, becoming the first horse in over a century to win the Kentucky that didn't race as a 2-year-old. "Now we can take a deep breath and just see how the horse is".

All that remained was to prove that he had the toughness and resolve to conquer the longest, most grueling leg of the Triple Crown.

In the hours before the race, Justify rested in Belmont's Barn 1, across the street from a Wendy's, undistracted by the beer-soaked fans who reveled close by - including one who almost relieved himself on a tree.

He led from the start and was chased home by Gronkowski, formerly trained in Britain by Jeremy Noseda, with Hofburg in third.

For trainer Bob Baffert, this is his second Triple Crown victory overall, and second in the past four years.

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On a fast, dry track, Justify was just as good in his third race in five weeks at his third different track. Saturday's race will be run 45 years to the day that Secretariat ended a 25-year Triple Crown drought. Owners, fans and even rival trainers stopped by to sneak a peek at the undefeated victor of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.

Coolmore agreed to a deal to buy American Pharoah for $10 million before the Triple Crown campaign even began, but the three wins tripled the investment, counting bonuses.

While nobody's denying that this is a special horse, and the feat he accomplished was incredible, I do believe that many underestimate how incredible.

Like "Big Red", as Secretariat was lovingly called, Justify (an even bigger "Big Red", at 16.3 hands and 1,380 pounds, compared to a typical 1,100-pound thoroughbred), drew the No. 1 post. A true closer, Blended Citizen does his best running in turf and synthetic races but is still an intriguing challenger to Justify thanks to his consistent speed figures and stamina pedigree.

Triple Crown victor Justify was the center of the sports world on Saturday.

Justify defied all the odds on his way to achieving Triple Crown immortality.

Hofburg paid $3.70 to show. "He could've won every race on the undercard today".

The Patriots, of course, were victim to the Giants in both Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI, where tight end Rob Gronkowski just narrowly missed hauling in a hail mary on the final play of the game.

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