Justify, a chestnut colt with a white streak emblazoned on his forehead will take on nine challengers on Saturday after drawing the inside post at yesterday's draw. He had four horses in this year's Kentucky Derby.
Then, he called Justify repeating at the Preakness despite an injured heel and sloppy conditions - which is exactly what happened.
In the women's quarterfinals, No. 10 Sloane Stephens beat No. 14 Daria Kasatkina of Russian Federation 6-3, 6-1, and No. 13 Madison Keys eliminated unseeded Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 7-6 (5), 6-4.
The challenge of pitching a three-year-old in against his elders at Ascot (28 July) has always appealed to the Maktoums - the ploy worked successfully with Nashwan, Belmez, King's Theatre, Lammtarra and Taghrooda - and aiming for the King George would give Masar four and three weeks longer holiday respectively than if he went to Ireland or Sandown. He got sick and missed the Derby and has been waiting to make his USA debut in the grueling Belmont.
"Nick told me Birdstone had been training great", Goldberg said.
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"This is where we started", Baffert said.
He also put Tapwrit on top of his exotics and hit the superfecta, which paid out nearly $4,500 on a $2 bet.
On June 6, the team behind Triple Crown contender Justify (Elliott Walden, President and Chief Executive of WinStar Farm, co-owners with China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, and Starlight Racing) announced Wheels Up, the revolutionary member-based private aviation company, as an exclusive sponsor.
Justify was dominant at the Derby and Preakness, but he's not fast enough to sustain that dominance at Belmont. I have nothing bad to say about him, but so many races for such a young colt definitely presents a problem. You'll be able to get Goldberg's official pick for where Justify finishes only over at SportsLine.
But the rest of the field isn't likely to let the three-year-old star get away easily, and Hofburg, Vino Rosso and Tenfold are just some of those still holding out hope for an upset in Elmont. "Every time I've gotten back on track, boom, it takes off again". He got bumped pretty good early in the Kentucky Derby, ran wide, made a late bid but flattened out.
Justify, who was accompanied on the one hour, 46-minute Tex Sutton charter flight from Louisville, Kentucky to Islip MacArthur Airport by fellow Belmont Stakes entrant and stablemate Restoring Hope and a stable pony, was led off the van by assistant trainer Jim Barnes and Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
Goldberg is also eyeing an overlooked long shot who has a big edge in distance, which is exactly what's needed in the Belmont Stakes 2018. Demling is sharing which horse it is, along with his entire projected leaderboard, over at SportsLine. Where does Justify finish? They were expected to arrive at Belmont Park in early afternoon.