NEW YORK — Justify led all the way to win the Belmont Stakes by 1¾ lengths and become horse racing's 13th Triple Crown champion and second in four years.
The chestnut colt is the second undefeated colt to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont, improving to 6-0 in a racing career that began on Feb. 18. Seattle Slew was unbeaten when he won the Triple Crown in 1977.
Sent off as the 4-5 favorite, Justify went to the lead out of the starting gate and led nine rivals around the track's sweeping turns on Saturday. He's the first Triple Crown winner to face that many rivals in the 1½-mile Belmont.
With Justify's victory, Bob Baffert became the second trainer to win the Triple Crown twice. He did so with American Pharoah in 2015, ending a 37-year drought.
At 52, Mike Smith is the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown.
Gronkowski finished second in the race. Hofburg was third in the thrilling race in which Justify was challenged momentarily at the top of the stretch and then drew off the roars of a crowd of 90,000.