Gronkowski the horse, partially owned by New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, finished second behind Triple Crown victor Justify in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday. "It feels pretty good". Justify, the three-year-old chestnut colt, completed his improbable Triple Crown journey with a dominating win at the 2018 Belmont Stakes. The 7-year-old bay horse won by 2 1/4 lengths and paid $9.10 to win - a generous price on a Baffert trainee. "This horse ran a tremendous race".
The throughbred's accomplishment marks the second horse to win the elusive three races in three years, as American Pharoah also took home the tile in 2015. Baffert, 65, had less than a year to train Justify who suffered a minor injury and didn't race his second year.
"He's just brilliant", said Smith, who at 52 became the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown. Though it served Secretariat well, it posed a concern for Baffert, who anxious his muscular colt might get pinned against the rail if he didn't break well.
Baffert credited his team of assistants for doing an outstanding job of preparing Justify for the grueling three-race, five-week grind.
"First and foremost, I want to thank my lord and savior, Jesus Christ, for blessing me with this wonderful day". "There's no one more deserving than him".
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Now all eyes are on Justify, who might have one major factor in his favor. There, colt-starter Toby Richard was clear from the very first day: written in bright orange marker on the dry-erase board were the words: "Goal: To help start the next Triple Crown victor".
Baffert is unsure whether to bring Solomini back from the Derby, though it wouldn't make much sense to put him in Justify's way.
"I'm feeling pretty in awe of the horse", Baffert said. "I can't describe the emotions that's going through my body right now". Two weeks later, Justify weathered torrential rain and a blanket of fog to win the Preakness Stakes, setting himself up for the Triple Crown bid.
"Those things tend to happen the way they're supposed to happen", Walden said. "And if not, it just won't".