In that case, the last Triple Crown victor came when Jimmy Carter was in the second year of his Presidency, the Shah of Iran was still in power, and the Soviet Union still existed and had not yet launched what would become a disastrous war in Afghanistan, and Grease had not yet been released in theaters. Among the other recent undefeated Kentucky Derby winners were Smarty Jones, Big Brown and Nyquist.
When American Pharoah won the Triple Crown in 2015, America hadn't seen one in 37 years.
Justify (1), with jockey Mike Smith up, crosses the finish line to win the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race, Saturday, June 9, 2018, in Elmont, N.Y. Birdstone, a 36-1 shot, reeled in Smarty Jones, who lost by a length. "We're like the coach, but they're the athletes, and the jockeys get it done". "I will never know".
Besides the grueling distance, the track itself can be tricky. He followed it up with a half-length win in the slop in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness on May 19.
Historically, deep closers have not fared well in the Belmont, so riders will seek to put their horses within a few lengths at the quarter pole.
"He just came on there, and he broke every curse there was", he said.
The Kentucky Derby and Preakness victor has been guided to this point by a couple of veterans: trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith. He's just an unbelievable horse.
When skeptics questioned his audacious ambitions for the late-developing colt, Baffert said Justify was talented enough to win the Kentucky Derby with minimal experience. It showed with Curlin when he was clobbered at the start, taken out of his game, and forced to come from well back for the first time in his short career.
"The raw talent is there", said Baffert. Baffert won in 2015 with American Pharoah. Justify gave Baffert his 16th victory as trainer in the Triple Crown series - five Kentucky Derbies, seven Preaknesses and three Belmonts - breaking a tie with D. Wayne Lukas for tops all-time. A crowd capped at 90,000 is expected for a chance to witness history.
The forecast calls for a high of 80 degrees and cloudy skies. "Once he enters the building, it'll be like Elvis".
But Baffert was far more interested afterward in speaking about how fitting and satisfying it felt to help Justify place his name alongside champions such as Secretariat, who'd claimed his Triple Crown 45 years to the day by winning the Belmont by a record 31 lengths in a record 2:24. Bravazo finished second in the Preakness and Hofburg was sired by Tapit, whose sons have won two of the last races in the Belmont, which is run at a 1 1/2 mile.