On Saturday at the Belmont Stakes race, Justify and jockey Mike Smith wowed audiences as they snagged their third huge prize in a row, officially winning what's referred to as the Triple Crown title. As with most ultra competitive races, winning isn't just about the title though. How much the Triple Crown prize winner gets makes coming in first place that much sweeter.
Contrary to what you may have expected, there isn't actually a cash prize for winning the Triple Crown. But don't grow disappointed just yet. According to Time, the Triple Crown winner's earnings are the lump sum of what was won in all three races. In other words, by the time everything is said and done, Justify and his owners will have taken home millions after claiming victory in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and, lastly, Belmont Stakes.
Justify's 2018 journey to victory kicked off on May 5 at the Kentucky Derby, where Time reports that about $2 million was distributed among the winners. Over half of that amount — about $1.24 million — went to Justify. Then, exactly two weeks later on May 19, the horse and jockey geared up for the second of three races, called the Preakness Stakes. Though that race puts more money in the overall pool of cash that goes to the top contenders, the first-place winner takes home a little less than they would have for winning the Kentucky Derby. This year, for example, Justify and his team won around $900,000, Time noted. Though the stakes are figuratively higher at the Belmont Stakes, the winner, again, takes home just a little less than they would've in the race prior. For example, the Belmont Stakes doled out around $1.5 million in 2018, but awarded the winner $800,000 of it, Time mentioned.
And 3-year-old Justify has truly proven itself a champion over the past several weeks since winning the Kentucky Derby. “This horse ran a tremendous race,” Smith said following the Belmont Stakes, The Washington Post reported. “He is so gifted. He is sent from heaven, I tell you. He’s just amazing.” The conditions for each of the three races in the Triple Crown were apparently very different, making Justify's third-in-a-row victory all the more impressive.
In fact, at the Kentucky Derby, The Post noted, Justify had already broken a record by becoming the first horse that didn't race as a 2-year-old to win in over 132 years. Secondly, if you watched the Preakness Stakes, you'll remember how absolutely dreary the conditions were. Despite the downpours and fog, Justify came in first place once again. Though conditions were much more favorable at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, on Saturday, the dry track likely posed different challenges than the soaking wet one from May 19. Again, Justify pulled ahead of the pack, finishing the mile-and-a-half race in under two minutes and 30 seconds, according to The Post.
Justify's Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert, choked up amid all the good news after the Belmont Stakes finished, NBC Sports reported. "It never gets old," he said of training a horse that won the Triple Crown. He had also trained 2015 Triple Crown winner Pharaoh. And considering around 100,000 people cheered in the stadium as Justify won that Saturday race, The Post noted, the experience must've been absolutely thrilling.