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

ImageJustify ridden by Mike Smith began his Triple Crown bid by winning the Kentucky Derby on May

A plan will be formulated once the chestnut colt recovers from a compressed schedule that saw him win six races over 111 days since his debut February 18. Trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith couldn't be more confident in Justify as he tries to win one more race against a field of nine horses.

Justify is set to return Monday to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

Whether the son of Scat Daddy had the stamina for the 2400m trip of the Belmont was the big question, but Smith was able to cut out the fractions he wanted from the front and Justify was not hard pushed to triumph.

When American Pharoah won the Triple Crown in 2015, America hadn't seen one in 37 years.

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Mara laughed out loud when asked what he said afterwards to trainer Bob Baffert. "After a week it starts catching up with them". But the horses slowed down the back stretch and Baffert liked what he saw on the timer at the half-mile pole. Three options are the $1 million Haskell Invitational on July 29 at New Jersey's Monmouth Park, the $1 million Pacific Classic on August 18 at Del Mar and the $1.25 million Travers on August 25 at Saratoga. It was a different vibe than 2015, when he admittedly felt pressure to win with American Pharoah. American Pharoah was in that invincible category until he lost the Travers Stakes in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., two months after winning the Belmont.

"He was standing so good, nearly too good", Smith revealed. Justify won in 2:28.18, well off the record time of 2:24, run by Secretariat in 1973. "I was blown away", Mara said via the New York Post.

"Smith said that when he's mounted on his horse, he follows God just as he normally would". "We wanted to give him every opportunity". "We got Jimmy Barnes, probably if they had an assistant trainer's Hall of Fame, he'd be the first one inducted". The most recent horse to win both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness and lose at Belmont Park was California Chrome in 2014.

Mike Repole, who co-owned two horses that raced at Belmont, thinks Restoring Hope's jockey Florent Geroux should be questioned about whether he served as protection for Justify.

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Gronkowski took second place and Hofburg placed in third. "This horse overcame a lot". Our horse came running.

Justify reached full speed at midstretch, and it was clear he would win the race and earn the Triple Crown.

Baffert has been doing enough of that lately without him. "When he showed that brilliance when he broke his maiden, we knew maybe he had a chance, but he was going to have to be something really special". "People love history being made in sports".

Among the other horses scheduled to compete in the Belmont is Bravazo, who challenged Justify in the Preakness and was beaten by a half-length. "Oh, Mike. Don't empty that tank", Baffert said.

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