A colt with a Canadian connection has made history as just the 13th horse to win horse racing’s Triple Crown.
Justify, bred by Langley, B.C.’s John Gunther, took the Belmont Stakes by one-and-three quarter lengths today on Saturday.
The chestnut colt, ridden by 52-year-old jockey Mike Smith, was first out of the gate and never gave up the lead.
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Gunther told Global News he’s overwhelmed.
“I almost collapsed when he went across the wire, it took all my breath away,” he said.
“It was such an unbelievable experience, everybody was in tears, the staff at Glennwood were crying, my daughter was crying. And I was almost in tears, it’s such an emotional experience,” he said.
Justify is a product of a mare Gunther owns, and was bred at his Glennwood Farm in Versailles, KY. Gunther’s daughter Tanya selected Justify’s sire, Scat Daddy.
“As I say, I’ve got to give all the credit to my daughter who planned the mating of Justify, and my staff at Glennwood. None of this would have happened without everybody involved.”
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Justify 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.
Justify won the Triple Crown’s last two stages, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, last month.
American Pharoah was the last horse to win all three races in 2015.
“It’s like climbing Mt. Everest,” Gunther said.
“Winning the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby is like getting to Base Camp Four. And then winning the Belmont it’s like you finally reached the summit. It means so much.”
Gunther said he’s now eyeing the future, looking at breeding plans for Justify’s mother.
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He said Justify will likely race in the Traverse and the Breeders’ Cup in the months ahead before likely retiring as a stallion at the end of the year.
He added that Justify has a yearling half-brother that the family is now looking at as a potential contender.
“And he is an awesome looking individual. I can honestly say he’s as good looking as Justify. So it will be exciting developing him. And if he’s anywhere close as good as Justify that would be a great accomplishment as well.”
-With files from the Canadian Press
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