STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Trainer compares Justify to LeBron James

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who is looking to make history with a win at the Belmont Stakes, compares his winning horse Justify to NBA star LeBron James.

Posted: Jun 11, 2018 4:45 AM
Updated: Jun 11, 2018 4:45 AM

Sixteen weeks ago, no one knew what to make of Justify -- except Hall of Fame horse racing trainer Bob Baffert.

He knew in February that the 3-year-old chestnut colt, who had yet to run a race, was something special.

After the horse won its first two races, he knew Justify was an amazing raw talent, capable of history.

And the horse proved his trainer prescient, winning a Triple Crown with a mesmerizing and dominant victory at the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.

"It was meant to be," Baffert said.

Justify defied the difficult post position along the rail, breaking well and taking the lead within seconds. None of the other nine horses had a chance to catch him.

"I was really happy with way he got away from there," jockey Mike Smith said.

The 4-5 favorite handled the 1.5-mile distance easily, and though runner-up Gronkowski was less than 2 lengths back, Justify never looked in danger of losing.

"I wanted to see that horse's name up there (with the other greats) because we know he was brilliant from day one," Baffert said. "And I am so happy for Mike Smith. There is no one more deserving than him."

Smith said Baffert made his dreams come true.

He told reporters he had an easy ride. When he wanted Justify to run fast he would squeeze him, and when he wanted Justify to relax and fall into a rhythm, the jockey would move his hands down.

Baffert was a little nervous after the first quarter-mile when Justify went out fast. But the horses slowed down the back stretch and Baffert liked what he saw on the timer at the half-mile pole.

"I was just watching the clock. It was going to be my friend or the enemy," Baffert said when asked about what other horses he was concerned about as the race developed.

The trainer said he worried again when Justify made a move forward in the final turn.

"I was like, 'Oh, Mike. Oh, Mike. Don't empty that tank," Baffert said.

But Justify, like all the great thoroughbreds, found "another gear," Baffert said. Justify won in 2:28.18, well off the record time of 2:24, run by Secretariat in 1973.

Baffert also trained Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2015. He refused comparisons between the two horses, saying they are different types of racers.

Baffert -- who has won more Triple Crown races than anyone -- complimented his team for helping the horse, which ran three major, testing races in five weeks.

Justify became the 13th thoroughbred to win horse racing's Triple Crown. He has won all six races he has run this year. Only Seattle Slew in 1977 was also undefeated when he won the Triple Crown.

It was the largest Belmont field ever beaten by a Triple Crown winner.

Gronkowski, named for the NFL player, finished second, after having been last for the first half of the race. Hofburg was third.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 609387

Reported Deaths: 7743
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1262491796
Ramsey52997910
Dakota47216475
Anoka43200465
Washington27664296
Stearns22659227
St. Louis18245319
Scott17686139
Wright16518153
Olmsted13503103
Sherburne1212396
Carver1073749
Clay829692
Rice8249111
Blue Earth769944
Crow Wing687999
Kandiyohi669885
Chisago626954
Otter Tail590087
Benton585198
Goodhue485574
Douglas477781
Mower477533
Winona463552
Itasca462768
Isanti445566
McLeod434261
Morrison427762
Beltrami410163
Nobles409850
Steele400719
Polk390772
Becker389157
Lyon365054
Carlton356958
Freeborn350734
Pine337323
Nicollet334045
Mille Lacs314856
Brown308640
Le Sueur299527
Cass288133
Todd288133
Meeker265444
Waseca240723
Martin236933
Roseau212221
Wabasha20833
Hubbard197741
Dodge18943
Renville183146
Redwood178141
Houston175416
Cottonwood168124
Wadena165023
Fillmore158910
Faribault156920
Chippewa154038
Pennington153820
Kanabec147828
Sibley147310
Aitkin139237
Watonwan13619
Rock129019
Jackson123112
Pipestone117126
Yellow Medicine115320
Pope11396
Murray107310
Swift107318
Koochiching96819
Stevens92611
Clearwater89217
Marshall88817
Lake84320
Wilkin83813
Lac qui Parle76122
Big Stone6094
Grant5958
Lincoln5863
Mahnomen5669
Norman5509
Kittson49122
Unassigned48193
Red Lake4037
Traverse3815
Lake of the Woods3474
Cook1740

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 374664

Reported Deaths: 6109
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58891646
Linn21448342
Scott20426250
Black Hawk16680319
Woodbury15319230
Johnson1473686
Dubuque13595213
Dallas1144099
Pottawattamie11307177
Story1082848
Warren592092
Clinton564393
Cerro Gordo562297
Webster538996
Sioux519174
Muscatine4920106
Marshall491479
Des Moines478275
Jasper452073
Wapello4366123
Buena Vista431040
Plymouth404982
Lee392658
Marion369177
Jones301257
Henry301037
Bremer292763
Carroll286252
Boone271234
Crawford270841
Benton262755
Washington259851
Dickinson250745
Mahaska232551
Jackson225842
Kossuth219166
Clay217327
Tama213372
Delaware211743
Winneshiek200636
Buchanan196734
Page195422
Cedar192923
Hardin191144
Wright189140
Fayette188243
Hamilton186851
Harrison181973
Clayton173057
Butler167835
Madison167719
Floyd164642
Mills163824
Cherokee161538
Lyon160941
Poweshiek159036
Allamakee155552
Hancock153134
Iowa148324
Winnebago145731
Calhoun143113
Cass140855
Grundy139333
Emmet136741
Jefferson134535
Sac132620
Shelby131838
Louisa130249
Union129535
Appanoose128049
Franklin127823
Mitchell127243
Chickasaw125717
Guthrie124532
Humboldt124526
Palo Alto114924
Montgomery106738
Howard105322
Clarke102424
Monroe100633
Keokuk99932
Ida92735
Adair89632
Davis86825
Pocahontas86822
Monona85931
Greene79111
Osceola79017
Lucas77423
Worth7568
Taylor67112
Decatur6629
Fremont64810
Ringgold56824
Van Buren56718
Wayne56323
Audubon52913
Adams3494
Unassigned90
Rochester
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 78°
Mason City
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 70°
Albert Lea
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 70°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 72°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
68° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 68°
Heat Trend on Tap for Week Ahead
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

The Curling Club of Rochester is at the Olmsted County Fair this year

Image

Motocross at Spring Creek National

Image

Larping group meets each Sunday

Image

Spring Creek Motocross

Image

Ryan's Evening Forecast (7/25/21)

Image

Med City Moonshots take on the Honkers

Image

Kasson Soldiers Rock Fundraiser

Image

Rochester Flyers work out at Detour Athletics

Image

Hot and Dry to Finish the Weekend

Image

Soldiers Rock fundraiser in Kasson

Community Events