Justify aims for the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes


Justify racing at the Kentucky Derby. He won the race by 2 and a half lengths

Isaac Goldstein, Contributing Writer

On June 9, around ten horses will attempt to win the 150th annual Belmont Stakes, one of the three races that compose the Triple Crown, along with the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

This year, a thoroughbred named Justify has already won two of the three races. He is looking to become the second Triple Crown winner in 40 years.  The first winner of the Triple Crown was Sir Barton in 1919, and since then 11 more horses have won, including the most recent victory by American Pharaoh in 2015.

Although the races occurred well before then, the term Triple Crown is thought to have come into use in the 1930s, when Gallant Fox won the award.  All of the Triple Crown race time records are held by Secretariat, the 1973 champion and the world record holder for the 1.5 mile with a time of 2:24. The Triple Crown is often revered as the most prestigious award in horse racing, and many trainers attempt to enter winning horses each year.

Known as “The Run for the Roses,” the Kentucky Derby started in 1875 after Meriwether Clark Jr. founded the Louisville Jockey Club to raise money for a horse racing facility.  He received land from John and Henry Churchill. This land was later named the Churchill Downs, which is now the location of the derby each year.

The derby’s time records for a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half are respectively held by Secretariat and Spokane with times of 1:59 and 2:34. Today, the Kentucky Derby is typically the most popular of the three races and is well known for its popular traditions, including extravagant clothing and spectators drinking its customary beverage, the mint julep.

The second of the three races that comprise the Triple Crown is the Preakness Stakes.  Created by Pimlico, it was originally supposed to be a stakes race for horses of just three years of age. However, by 1890 the age restriction was been lifted.  The race received its current title when former Maryland governor Oden Bowie decided to name it after the colt Preakness from the Preakness Stables in New Jersey.

Survivor was named the first champion of the Preakness stakes, and since that race in 1873, there have been over 140 winners.  Since 1909 to present day, the race has taken place at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Belmont Stakes is the oldest of the three races, its origin dating back to 1867. It was created when the race was financed by August Belmont, a politician and avid fan of horse racing.  The race was first held in Jerome Park Racetrack in the Bronx, but in 1890 it was moved to Morris Park Racecourse. By 1905, the race had moved to its present day location, Belmont Park, in Elmont, which is in Nassau County on Long Island.

In addition to being the oldest, the Belmont Stakes is by far the longest of the races at 1.5 miles and is called “The Test of the Champion.”  The first Belmont Stakes was won by Ruthless with a time of 3:05. Currently, the records in terms of lengths won by, and time of completion are both held by Secretariat, the Triple Crown winner in 1973.

Justify has yet to lose in the five races he has run so far, two of which being part of the Triple Crown.  While it looks promising, Justify is not necessarily a surefire bet to take home the Triple Crown, as the Belmont Stakes is thought to be the most difficult of the three races.  Expert horse racing analysts have said that while Justify has a slight edge, there are several contenders that could come out with a win. Many people are conflicted as to whether Justify will be able to win.

“I think it could go either way. It really depends on the conditions of the race, but if I had to call it, I would predict a Hofburg victory,” said junior Ben Goldstein.

In fact, out of the 35 horses who have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, only 34 percent, have managed to win the Belmont Stakes.  Right now out of the horses who are possible competitors, the horse with the best odds to defeat Justify is Hofburg with odds of 4-1.  Also behind Justify is Bravazo with 8-1 odds.

“I think that Justify is going to win the Belmont Stakes because he seemed very dominant in the first two races,” said junior Benjamin Aranoff.

Others have taken a different stance and believe that Justify will be unable to win the Triple Crown.

“I don’t think that Justify will win. It would be very difficult to win the hardest of the three races with competitors who have trained just for that race,” said freshman Shiv Chatrath.

The race is set for June 9 at 6:37 pm, and no matter the result, the race is guaranteed to be exciting. It will be interesting to see whether or not Justify will be able to cement his name is horseracing by winning the Triple Crown.