China Horse Club International, WinStar Farm, Starlight Racing and Head of Plains Partners’ undefeated Justify, who sold at Keeneland’s 2016 September Yearling Sale for $500,000, became Thoroughbred racing’s 13th Triple Crown winner when he scored a front-running victory in Saturday’s 150th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) at Belmont Park.
Justify, who cross the finish 1¾ lengths in front of 24-1 longshot and Keeneland sales graduate Gronkowski, is the 20th Belmont winner produced by Keeneland sales. The Scat Daddy colt is the latest among the 22 Kentucky Derby (G1) winners and 24 Preakness (G1) winners to graduate from Keeneland sales.
Bred by John D. Gunther, Justify was consigned by Gunther’s Glennwood Farm, agent, to the 2016 September Sale, where he sold for $500,000 to China Horse Club and Maverick Racing.
Justify, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Mike Smith, now has six wins, including the Santa Anita Derby (G1), Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
“It is a tremendous honor for Keeneland to have sold racing’s newest Triple Crown winner, Justify,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “Keeneland extends its congratulations to breeders John and Tanya Gunther; owners Kenny Troutt, Teo Ah Khing, Jack Wolf and Sol Kumin; trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith.”
Belmont second-place finisher Gronkowski, owned by Phoenix Thoroughbred III, made his North American debut in the race for owner Phoenix Thoroughbred III. Bred by Epic Thoroughbreds, the son of Lonrho (AUS) was consigned as a weanling to Keeneland’s 2015 November Breeding Stock Sale by Trackside Farm, agent, and sold to Margaret O’Toole for $75,000.
Six of the 10 horses in the Belmont were Keeneland sales graduates.
On the Belmont undercard, three additional Keeneland sales graduates captured Grade 1 races:
- China Horse Club International and Clearsky Farms’ champion Abel Tasman won the Ogden Phipps by 7½ lengths;
- Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables’ Monomoy Girl took the Acorn for her third consecutive Grade 1 win following Keeneland’s Central Bank Ashland (G1) and the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs; and
- Charles Fipke’s Bee Jersey won the Runhappy Metropolitan for his fourth consecutive victory.
Abel Tasman wins the Ogden Phipps
Monomoy Girl wins the Acorn Stakes
Bee Jersey wins the Metropolitan Handicap