As Rick James once sang about a girl, “she’s a superfreak.” Well they should be making a song about Justify who may be just that – freaking super.
In the Belmont, Justify with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith in the irons, shot to the front and never looked back, paying $3.60 to win and as they used to say, $3.50 to place (that’s ok) and $2.80 to show.
Gronkowski, making his first start in the States on dirt and beyond a mile, broke last but got a great ride by Jose Ortiz to pick up the place. Gronk went off at almost 25/1 with Hofburg, under Irad Ortiz, coming late to just beat Vino Rosso out of the show money, outriding J.R. Velazquez down the lane beating Vino Rosso by a neck.
There are several stories not only for the Belmont but also for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. Most trainers would love to win just one race in the Triple Crown series and now he’s won all three twice since 2015.
In another amazing feat by Baffert he also won a triple crown of sorts the same day, sending out Abel Tasman with, yes, Smith riding to win the $750K Ogden Phipps, routing her competition by more than seven lengths.
Then he sent out his iron horse Hoppertunity to capture the $400K Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational going away by more the two lengths to beat my old buddy War Story.
Hoppertunity is the oldest runner in the Baffert barn as he is a seven-year-old horse who has now won almost $5 million.
Maybe Baffert is the superfreak?
It’s not easy to win the Triple Crown of racing and things really need to go perfect to win two of the three races but things could have gone differently if the connections of Justify (China Horse Club International Ltd., WinStar Farm), also did not own Audible, one of the other best 3yo runners.
Audible ran huge in the Kentucky Derby but his connections did not send him to the Preakness or the Belmont for fear of beating Justify and costing them the Triple Crown.
Horse racing always comes together with a Triple Crown winner but we would truly like to see what Justify is really made of against the likes of Audible and Good Magic should they meet again.
If we are lucky maybe we will see them tangle down the road in the Breeders’ Cup. We will wait and see.
For now, all we can say about Baffert/Justify is they came, they saw, they conquered all!
Still VGK Strong: We know there were a lot of broken hearts when our Vegas Golden Knights lost last week’s Stanley Cup final but they deserve our huge respect and thanks for giving their all and giving their fans such an exciting season. Besides Justify winning the Triple Crown our Golden Knights are the sports story of the year.
All of us in Vegas thank you and we can’t wait till next year.
What if? How about if the Raiders come to town and make it to the Super Bowl in their first year in Vegas? Now that would be a story. Do you think this city would be wild and superfreaky!
Hairy issue: What is it with all the beards in baseball? Don’t the guys know this is summer and we are heading into the dog days very soon? Are they trying to put Gillette out of business? Also, why all the bling? This seems dangerous, especially if sliding into home plate.
If you want to wear all the bling why not do so when dressed up and clean shaven!
Back in the saddle: Just two more weeks of racing at the great race place Santa Anita. Closing day is Sunday, June 24 and then they head to Los Alamitos for a short two week run starting on June 28, running through July 15 leading to Del Mar opening on Wednesday, July 18.
Play of the Week
We will go to the 6th race on Thursday at Santa Anita, a downhill turf sprint for optional $40K fillies and mares.
This race is loaded with early speed and No. 3 Goseecal will get the perfect setup with Gary Stevens sitting off the hot pace and mowing them down crossing the dirt. The price should be right.
Have a great weekend and always get out to bet. You could be walking around lucky and not even know it.