Winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Justify will look to take its final stride toward history Saturday at the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York.
Here’s everything you need to know for Saturday’s race.
Post time: 6:37 p.m. ET
Pre-race coverage: NBC Sports Network, 2:00-5:00 p.m. ET
150th Belmont Stakes: NBC, 5:00-7:00 p.m. ET
2. Free Drop Billy
5. Restoring Hope
8. Vino Rosso
9. Noble Indy
10. Blended Citizen
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Weather: The forecast is favorable for the third leg of the Triple Crown after historically sloppy conditions for both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. The National Weather Service forecast for the area around Elmont, N.Y., called for partly sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 70s. AccuWeather warned of the chance of a thunderstorm, but indicated rain could miss to the southwest.
Justify is a massive specimen, standing 16.3 hands (taller than the famously big 1973 Triple Crown champion Secretariat) and weighing 1,380 pounds, more than 250 above the average thoroughbred. He has an attitude to match, more pushy than regal. And he’s backed it up, standing on the verge of the Triple Crown having shown little sign of strain from a heavy workload — the Belmont will be his sixth race since Feb. 18.
The impressive 3-year-old campaign after not racing at all as a 2-year-old raises the question of whether there is a lesson to be learned from Justify’s atypical start to competition. Will his success herald a trend of more 2-year-olds forgoing races? Or is he an outlier?
Justify’s path to cusp of Triple Crown is unusual. But so is training a 1,380-pound athlete.
Trainer Bob Baffert is open in his admiration for Justify. But the Hall of Famer would also enter the record books with a victory on Saturday: He would become only the second person to train two Triple Crown winners, joining James Fitzsimmons (with Gallant Fox in 1930 and Omaha in 1935); it would also be his 15th victory in a Triple Crown race, moving him past D. Wayne Lukas for most all-time.
“You say ‘Bob’ in the racing industry, and there’s only one Bob,” notes Joe Harper, CEO of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and a longtime family friend.