Justify draws the rail for Belmont

Jockey Martin Garcia works Triple Crown hopeful Justify at Churchill Downs in Louisville Ky. Tuesday

The Bob Baffert-trained horse has won the first two legs of the US thoroughbred racing's famous hat trick - the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes - running from post No. 7. He'll be the heavy favorite on Saturday and if he continues to run as he has in his five-race career he will win.

"He's the best horse trainer in America, and he always puts his horses first, " Romans said of Baffert.

"I pray that we just get our chance and all those years of experience over it come into play because if that's the case, we'll be tough", Smith said recently.

Justify's road to history may be daunting, but there are some factors on his side as well. The race will test his endurance not just because of its length (at 1½ miles, it's the longest leg of the Triple Crown) but because of all the races before it.

Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes led dual Classic victor Justify off the van to the familiar sound of clicking camera shutters in front of a packed house at Barn 1 just after 2 p.m. An injury kept him from starting in the Derby so he will make his American debut in the Belmont. Stephens beat Keys in the U.S. Open final last September, and Thursday's rematch will be the first all-American women's semifinal at the French Open since Serena Williams defeated Jennifer Capriati in 2002. He's good enough, but he needs to run his race.

He'll be ridden by Ricardo Santana, and he'll break from the No. 7 hole.

The colt is Hofburg, a 9-2 second choice in $1.5 million race Saturday. He overcame the "Curse of Apollo" to win the Kentucky Derby in dominant fashion and take home the roses.

Bravazo and Vino Rosso were pegged at 8-1 each in the morning line.

'TDN Rising Star' Tijori, the first victor for champion 3-year-old colt and freshman sire Will Take Charge, really made her presence felt during this early timeslot as well. He broke from the No. 1 post in the Preakness. He won the Preakness. Baffert said Tuesday the experience of winning so recently with American Pharoah in 2015 was helping him manage the pressure this week. I feel good about it.

Jockey Mike Smith will need to use Justify's speed to get him away from the starting gate before the rest of the field comes over on him along the rail. "He is on the inside, so he can sort of dictate what's going to go, what's happening".

"He was, like, 'Let's get it on, '" Baffert told the New York Racing Association. His throw from in front of the mound was high to infielder Luis Guillorme, who rose up to catch it.

With the Triple Crown in sight at Saturday's Belmont Stakes, the owners of Justify, Winstar Farm, have brokered a deal to have the horse exclusively sponsored by private jet company WheelsUp.

Bravazo and Tenfold are the only other runners besides Justify entering the Belmont who last ran three weeks ago in the Preakness. The Preakness will take place at Pimlico in 2019, but Stronach Group COO Tim Ritvo would prefer the race to move to Laurel Park at some point in the future.

It is hard to ignore how implausible it seems that a colt with only five career races since February could complete one of the most difficult feats in racing.

Obviously, there is a strong Oaklawn flavor, which has become the norm in the Triple Crown.

What are Jody Demling's Belmont Stakes picks?

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