Justify's win puts Bob Baffert in rare Triple Crown air

Justify's win puts Bob Baffert in rare Triple Crown air
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

With his victory in the 2018 Belmont Stakes, Justify became the 13th Triple Crown winner and, at the same time, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert moved out of a tie with D. Wayne Lukas at 14 total wins in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont with victory number 15.

For Justify, it all happened in a just shy of four months and in only six career races. For Baffert, it began some 21 years ago, in 1997, when he won the Kentucky Derby with Silver Charm. Justify has won a Maiden Special Weight, an allowance, the Santa Anita Derby, and now the three jewels of American thoroughbred racing. The superstar trainer now has won five Kentucky Derbys, seven editions of the Preakness and, finally, three Belmonts. In addition, Baffert has hit the board in the Triple Crown races 11 other times.

Justify and Seattle Slew are now the only unbeaten Triple Crown winners. In 1977, Seattle Slew was 9-for-9 after the Belmont, including three races as a 2-year-old. At the same time, Baffert became only the second trainer in history to win the Triple Crown twice along with the legendary Belair Stables conditioner “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons.

Baffert's Triple Crown timeline

1) 1997 – Kentucky Derby – Silver Charm

2) 1997 – Preakness – Silver Charm

3) 1998 – Kentucky Derby – Real Quiet

4) 1998 – Preakness – Real Quiet

5) 2001 – Preakness – Point Given

6) 2001 – Belmont – Point Given

7) 2002 – Kentucky Derby – War Emblem

8) 2002 – Preakness – War Emblem

9) 2010 – Preakness – Lookin At Lucky

10) 2015 – Kentucky Derby – American Pharoah

11) 2015 – Preakness – American Pharoah

12) 2015 – Belmont – American Pharoah – Triple Crown

13) 2018 – Kentucky Derby – Justify

14) 2018 – Preakness – Justify

15) 2018 – Belmont – Justify – Triple Crown

When WinStar Farm's President and CEO, Elliott Walden, was asked why he sent Justify to Baffert, he replied simply and yet profoundly.

"We tried to hire a very good trainer," Walden said. "Bob is maybe the greatest of all time.”

Meet Matt Shifman

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently is a Senior Writer. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs, Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing

Matt has been a co-host of the popular weekly video show HorseCenter for many years.

Since 2012, Matt has been a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

Matt is also a partner in the New York Hot List handicapping service @NYHotList where he handicaps the races on the NYRA circuit everyday. The Hot List picks are available at several ADW sites around the country.

You may also know Matt by his Twitter, Facebook, and HRN screen nameAndyScoggin.

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