He was also only three-quarters of a length behind Triple Crown contender Justify so keep him in mind when filling out your tri-fectas. American Pharoah ended a 37-year Triple Crown drought in 2015, and now just three years later, racing is celebrating another sweep of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont.
History is about to judge experts and analysts offering their picks for the 2018 Belmont Stakes. He also took the lead as the victor of the most Triple Crown races.
"The great ones, they just find another gear", Baffert said. And he just came along himself. "It was meant to be".
Justify became the 13th horse to win thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown on Saturday after charging to victory at the Belmont Stakes in NY.
The big, powerful colt had proved his ability and speed in winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness in the first two jewels of the Triple Crown. He joins "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons, who trained Gallant Fox and Omaha in 1930 and 1935, respectively. The article was written in 2013 prior to American Pharoah's win, but it still rings true today.
It was Baffert's fifth attempt to win the Triple Crown - three more than any other trainer. It was a different vibe than 2015, when he admittedly felt pressure to win with American Pharoah.
"I think he's the greatest of all time", jockey Mike Smith, 52, said about Justify.
Smith, 52, is the second-oldest Kentucky Derby victor behind Bill Shoemaker, who rode Ferdinand to victory in 1986 at age 54. We're also blessed we made it back safe, this horse ran a tremendous race. After standing quietly while his nine rivals were loaded, Justify blasted out of the gate as if on a spring.
"I believe there's just a flow that guides me and when I follow it, wonderful things happen", he said.
In the paddock before the race, Baffert told Smith, "The gas tank is full".
"I can't describe the emotions going through my body right now", he continued.
The Asbury Park-Press put together a collection of picks from staff members, and none of them featured a vote for Justify to win the race despite going off the board as a 4-to-5 morning line favorite.
But Justify found his own path.
Baffert will saddle a second horse: 30-1 shot Restoring Hope.
The Patriots, of course, were victim to the Giants in both Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI, where tight end Rob Gronkowski just narrowly missed hauling in a hail mary on the final play of the game. I wanted to see that horse's name up there, because we knew he was brilliant from day one. So, even if you aren't typically a horse racing fan, you might want to tune in to see if history is made.