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Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

Mike Smith, 52, becomes oldest jockey to win Triple Crown

Mike Smith, 52, becomes oldest jockey to win Triple Crown

He trained American Pharoah in 2015 when the horse won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes in Baltimore and Belmont Stakes in NY after a 37-year Triple Crown dry spell for thoroughbred horse racing.

He conquered the slop on May 5 to become the first horse since 1882 to win a Kentucky Derby without having raced as a 2-year-old and followed that feat with a damp and daring Preakness victory through soupy fog on May 16 that sent him to NY with the crown on the line.

The 24-1 long-shot Gronkowski battled from the back of the pack to cross the line second, nearly two length's behind Justify, while the 5-1 Hofburg finished third.

"To become just the 13th victor of the Triple Crown is incredible and even more special is the fact that he is only the second Triple Crown victor to be bought at public auction after Seattle Slew in 1977".

"Mike great, obviously, and Justify is probably a great horse", said trainer Bill Mott, whose Hofburg finished third, 3½ behind Justify.

Bob Baffert and Mike Smith have teamed up to win a big race at Belmont Park. "They were going slow and (jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr.) said he didn't want to make some insane move down the backside to go join him, which probably wouldn't have made any sense".

Justify began his racing career on February 18, a scant 77 days before the Derby.

Bob Baffert made himself right at home at Belmont Park again. He's just a big, tough horse. Justify's wire-to-wire win on Saturday came after he trounced through the mud to win the wettest Kentucky Derby in history, then held on to win the Preakness Stakes in another muddy, wet race. Prior to American Pharoah's triumph, the drought between Triple Crown winners had been on unprecedented 37 years, when Affirmed bested Alydar in all three Triple Crown races in 1978.

"It is such a surreal feeling and one that I'm still trying to take in", he said.

It always takes a special horse to complete the American Triple Crown sweep. Owners, fans and even rival trainers stopped by to sneak a peek at the undefeated victor of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.

ATLANTA-On Saturday afternoon, 11Alive Sports and NBC Sports will offer exclusive streaming access to the 150th running of The Belmont Stakes, the final leg of horse racing's Triple Crown series.

"It was a steep learning curve for me personally when we started buying horse in the USA market because it was all new to us", said Wallace from the Belmont track.

Justify won the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, earning him the coveted Triple Crown.

"He looked like a bodyguard making sure nobody got close to Justify". "If he could win a graded race, it would be unbelievable". More than $10 million was bet on the race.

He is bidding to join Seattle Slew in 1977 as the only undefeated Triple Crown champions. It shows a horse eating the flowers off a women's hat and the jockey reimbursing her in the winner's circle with Quick Pay.

"From his first start, you could see that he was a very, very impressive colt", John Gunther of Langley, B.C., who bred Justify at his Kentucky farm, told CTV Vancouver before the race.

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