DOSWELL—On June 9, a strapping chestnut colt named Justify sprang out of the starting gate in the Belmont Stakes and did not relinquish his lead, becoming the 13th Triple Crown winner in the competition’s 99-year history.
Exactly 45 years earlier on June 9, 1973, his great-great-great-great grandsire, Secretariat, thrilled the nation with the first Triple Crown victory since 1948. His 31-length, record-smashing win in the Belmont remains an iconic image in American culture.
His descendant, Justify, further distinguished himself by becoming only the second horse in Triple Crown history, following 1977 champion Seattle Slew, to enter the winner’s circle undefeated. The 3-year-old colt has won a total of six races in his brief career, and half of those were Triple Crown races.
Justify also has the distinction of being the only Triple Crown winner who didn’t race as a 2 year old. Reportedly a pulled muscle kept him off the track last year. Neither that injury nor his relative inexperience hindered his commanding performance on the track this year.
Justify is the second descendant of Secretariat to win the Triple Crown. In 2015, American Pharoah, a great-great-great grandson, broke the long dry spell of 37 years as the first horse to claim the crown since Affirmed won in 1978.
“It is wonderful to see Justify as another Secretariat descendant capture the Triple Crown in this decade,” said Leeanne Ladin, Secretariat tourism manager/historian at The Meadow Event Park
and author of Secretariat’s Meadow—The Land, The Family, The Legend. “It’s also gratifying to see Secretariat’s track records in the Triple Crown still unbroken after 45 years.”
Secretariat hails from Meadow Stable in Caroline County, and the race coverage each year always leads to more calls for tours of his birthplace, Ladin noted. Highlights of the Secretariat Birthplace Tours include the foaling shed where he was born, his training and yearling barns, a stallion barn, the Meadow Champion Galleries, the Triple Crown Room with its Chenery Collection of memorabilia, visits with Groundshaker, a great-great granddaughter of Secretariat and book signings in the gift shop.
“We invite visitors to come see the Virginia farm that produced an American legend,” Ladin said.
Tours are available year-round by reservation. For more information visit MeadowEventPark.com.
Media: Contact Ladin at 804-363-1683.