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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, June 10, 2018 1:00 am

Jockey Smith finally feels deserving of Hall

TOM CANAVAN | Associated Press

NEW YORK – The thoroughbred horse racing world belongs to “Big Money Mike” Smith.

The 52-year-old jockey who has been dominating big races in recent years put an exclamation point on his illustrious career Saturday, guiding Justify to the Triple Crown with a victory in the Belmont Stakes.

In sweeping the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont, Smith becomes the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown. It's the pinnacle of a career that has seen him win more than 5,400 races, including a record 26 in the Breeders' Cup, and now seven Triple Crown races. His mounts have earned more than $310 million.

This was another perfect ride. Breaking from the less-than-desired No. 1 post, Smith gunned Justify to the lead and never looked back.

“This horse ran a tremendous race, he's so gifted,” said Smith, who looked to the sky to celebrate after his ride. “He's sent from heaven. I tell you, it's just amazing. I can't describe the emotions going through my body right now.”

Smith had made a point of saying before the Belmont that he didn't feel like he had done that much to be in the thoroughbred Hall of Fame.

“Yeah, I belong now,” said Smith, who ripped carnations from the garland of flowers draped on Justify after the race and tossed them in the air to celebrate.

When fans roared at him in appreciation on the way back to the winner's circle, Smith calmly point to Justify.

“He's so brilliant. Did you see him in the gate, he's standing so still,” Smith said.