On June 9, 2017 a beautiful chestnut horse named Justify blasted out of the starting gate in the third leg of the Triple Crown, The Belmont Stakes setting the pace the entire way on the lead without any serious threats. Justify is only the13th Triple Crown winner ever in the entire history of this grueling three race test. Justify was the second to win the triple crown for Bob Baffert as he did it with American Pharoah two years prior.
It was forty five years prior on June 9, 1973, his great Grandsire x4, big red other wise known as Secretariat, lit up the tote board and the nation with the first Triple Crown achievement since 1948. Demolishing the field by 31 lengths, with the fastest time recorded in history that still stands to this day.
His distant relative, Justify, flattered his bloodlines by cementing himself by becoming only the second horse in the storied history of the Triple Crown to enter the winners circle undefeated, following the great Seattle Slew who did exactly the same thing in 1977. Justify raced only a total of six times ever before being retired with 50% of them being Triple Crown series races.
Justify also had the honors of breaking the Apollo Curse which is the only other horse in history to win the Triple Crown and never race as a two year old. Although he was retired early he accomplished a lot in his brief career. Many have said he isn’t worthy of the Triple Crown moniker, that he didn’t race enough into his three year old year to legitimize himself. Maybe the racing purest weren’t satisfied enough. Regardless of any negative speak I have still till this ever seen a horse so visually impressive in a small amount of time. He was truly a freak of nature.
Being the second descendant of Secretariat to win the Triple Crown. Two years prior in 2015, the same trainer Bob Baffert had struck lighting a gain with another super horse the great American Pharoah, a 3x great grandson of old big red had given racing and the God’s something it hoped for, what seemed like an eternity of a 37 year drought without a Triple Crown Champion. The first horse to win all three legs since Affirmed did it in June of 1978.
Once upon a time in our nations history winning the Triple Crown grabbed the attention of the entire nation. There were times when such an event actually brightened the moods of many and raised morale. The saddest part of these latest two accomplishments for me is the fact that they didn’t even move the needle outside of the racing world like it used to. Is this a sign of the times? Surely when the great American Pharoah won, it grabbed much attention.
Justify winning the triple crown seemed like just another ordinary race, less special and routine only because the the 37 year drought was lifted. One thing for sure from a horseman’s perspective it it wasn’t any less special. One thing for sure is Justify was a special horse for his achievements in a small window of time. Big red never ceases to still impress us to this day, from his record setting time that still stand among the Triple Crown God’s to showing some of us once again what it feels like to see something special.