With the win, Justify improved to 6-0 in a career that began in February, making him the first Triple Crown victor not to race as a 2-year-old. "That's his job, to protect the other horse, and it worked for them", Velazquez said.
Wearing a white blanket advertising his status as the sport's 13th Triple Crown victor, Justify walked laps inside the barn before coming outside to greet a slew of cameras.
Bob Baffert became the second trainer to win the Triple Crown twice. He also took the lead as the victor of the most Triple Crown races.
Just 1 3/4 lengths behind Justify was Phoenix Thoroughbreds's runner-up Gronkowski (Lonhro ), who put forth a new career-top effort in his main-track debut and first start for trainer Chad Brown, who said he was pleased with the effort Sunday morning.
Bred by John D. Gunther, Justify was consigned by Gunther's Glennwood Farm, agent, to the 2016 September Sale, where he sold for $500,000 to China Horse Club and Maverick Racing.
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Justify, who cross the finish 1¾ lengths in front of 24-1 longshot and Keeneland sales graduate Gronkowski, is the 20 Belmont victor produced by Keeneland sales.
Post time for the Belmont Stakes is 6:37 p.m. ET, coverage of the undercard races begins at 2 p.m. ET.
Justify did not begin his career until February 18 and won his first two starts easily at Santa Anita.
"It was meant to be", Baffert said.
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Justify, right, ridden Mike Smith leads the field at the end of the backstretch during the Belmont Stakes horse race.
Baffert fell short the first three times he brought a horse to Belmont with a chance at the Triple Crown - with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002).
"It definitely seemed to me he was more of an offensive lineman than a racehorse trying to win the Belmont, and Justify was a running back trying to run for a touchdown", said Mike Repole, co-owner of Noble Indy and fourth-place Vino Ross.
The Belmont Stakes Day card generated an all-sources handle of $137,954,895 - the second-highest in one day New York Racing Association History behind Belmont Stakes Day in 2014.
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Which is why there should be no surprise that the opening quarter-mile of the 150th Belmont Stakes last Saturday has become grist for post-race agita.