Justifying Triple Crown Expectations

Is Justify Ready to Pass the Test of the Champion?

When Justify goes to the gate in Saturday’s running of the 150th Belmont Stakes, he’ll be the 36th horse to attempt the Triple Crown sweep after winning both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. But only 12 horses have won the Triple Crown, and Justify will join the sensational Seattle Slew (1977) as only the second undefeated victor if he wins the Belmont Stakes.

If you listen to many media members and even noted horse handicappers, you will hear numerous opinions on Justify and his chances in winning the Belmont Stakes and completing the Triple Crown. The expectations are enormous, as is the media coverage and interest. Along with big betting interest in not only Justify and the Belmont Stakes, but the 10 graded stakes on Saturday including six grade 1 events, you can bet that the talk of betting on horse racing and the recent supreme court decision on sports betting is only good news for horse racing and wagering.

In correspondence with a sharp handicapper at the East Coast Handicapping Report (ECHR), I share some notes and add commentary. Expectations are a funny thing in racing. Justify was so built up prior to the Preakness that anything less than a trouncing would be conceived as a failure. The reality is, the sealed track at Churchill was different than the Pimlico sealed surface, and the very best handicappers understand that slow fractions while eyeballing another horse are not the same as slow fractions relaxing by yourself.

So at Pimlico for the Preakness, Justify was running over a very muddy, off track that was sticky and drying out, not as quick as the Churchill Downs surface. He also dealt with another element as the unusual ‘fog’ overlapped the track. Justify was confronted throughout the race, eyeballing his rival Good Magic and having to move early to shake him off before having to deal with a couple others who benefited from the initial seven-eighths. Yet Justify still prevailed. Seriously, what’s the problem? Throw in the fact he was actually battle tested down the lane for the first time, and I’m a believer that Justify will provide a big Belmont effort over the longer, more methodical distance.

You can bet on it.


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