Giants' Chris Mara jabs Patriots, Gronkowski after Justify wins Triple Crown

Jockey Mike Smith center celebrates atop Justify and the pair teamed up to win the Belmont Stakes on Saturday in Elmont N.Y. Justify will get a rest before racing again

"I think he's the greatest of all time", Smith said.

Scat Daddy's bloodlines include Canadian-breds Nijinsky (an English Triple Crown champion), Northern Dancer and Storm Bird. But it's likely most of those who put down $2 on the victor will never cash those tickets because they have a souvenir from the race that produced the 13 Triple Crown victor. A leading 23 Belmont winners have come out of there, including Secretariat.

Justify shredded the history books. Gallant Fox, Omaha and War Admiral accomplished the feat in the 1930s.

"It never gets old". You get asked all the time what your strategy is going to be for a race, but when you have Mike Smith on one of your horses the beauty of it is you can sit back, relax and know that you've put all of that in the hands of the best in the business. He celebrated by grabbing white carnations from the winner's blanket and tossing them in the air.

"I was so happy for him when he won", said Smith.

Concern over Justify's No. 1 position was eliminated right away, as Smith recalled the start.

Among the possibilities: the $1 million Haskell Invitational on July 29 at Monmouth Park in Nw Jersey; the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar outside San Diego on August 18; and the $1.25 million Travers at Saratoga in NY on August 25. But most important, Justify's victory assures that we won't have to wait another 37 years to see a Triple Crown.


Chris Mara has won two Super Bowl championships with the Giants and now he is a Triple Crown champion, too.

Purchased for $500,000, Justify earned $800,000 for his Belmont win, giving him $3,798,000 in his brief career.

Justify led for the entire race and completed the mile and a half in an unofficial time of 2 minutes 28.18 seconds. But jockeys say Smith's age is actually an advantage. "He's so gifted. He's sent from heaven". I tell you, it's just wonderful.

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.

Smith got the colt into a relaxed rhythm under a moderate pace heading into the backstretch, and he had an easy trip from there.

Justify won the Belmont on Saturday by 1¾ lengths over 24-1 shot Gronkowski after winning the Kentucky Derby by 2½ lengths and the Preakness by a half-length. They didn't do it.

There were a few bids made by other horses turning for home. "When he was that far back early, I said to myself, 'This is not going to end well.' He's just so far back, and there are quality horses in front of him, and then I saw the fractions and said, 'How is this horse going to close?'". In fact, until the Preakness Stakes, no contender had come within 2 1/2 lengths of Justify as he had to fend off Bravazo and Tenfold late. Four of Justify's rivals have been resting since the Kentucky Derby a month ago: Free Drop Billy (16th), Hofburg (seventh), Noble Indy (17th) and Vino Rosso (ninth).

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