There was one horse, however, who was a threat to Justify's Triple Crown bid at the top of the Belmont Park stretch. The old friends include Preakness runner-up Bravazo (who also finished 6th in the Derby), and the 7th, 9th, 16th and 17th finishers in the Kentucky Derby.
Smith, who ran in the No. 1 post for the first time in his career at Belmont, chuckled at Espinoza's comment, noting that he has to say that about his horse. Only Seattle Slew in 1977 was also undefeated when he won the Triple Crown.
Justify did not begin his career until February 18 and won his first two starts easily at Santa Anita. Prior to American Pharoah's triumph, the drought between Triple Crown winners had been on unprecedented 37 years, when Affirmed bested Alydar in all three Triple Crown races in 1978.
In 2015, another horse manned by trainer Bob Baffert rode to glory.
Coolmore also purchased breeding rights for 2015 Triple Crown victor, American Pharoah (for $10 million initially, though the deal was pushed to about $30 million with bonuses).
Smith, the coolest man at Belmont Park, who did not even celebrate when the race and the Triple Crown were won, rationed it perfectly. "He looked like a very good horse and we hired a very good trainer, maybe the greatest of all time".
Walden, President and CEO of the Windstar syndicate that owns Justify, praised trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith for pushing the horse to win all three legs of the Triple Crown. He's just an unbelievable horse. "I mean, he left like he was going 440 yards in Ruidoso, New Mexico!" American Pharoah, he'll always be my first love. "When he was that far back early, I said to myself, 'This is not going to end well.' He's just so far back, and there are quality horses in front of him, and then I saw the fractions and said, 'How is this horse going to close?'"
"I've had some really great horses, " he said.
Justify became the second undefeated Triple Crown victor after Seattle Slew in 1977, finishing first in a field of 10.
Smith, who kept looking at the replay of his own performance while fielding questions from the media, admitted that he was anxious about how calm Justify stood in the gate.
In spite of the difficulty, Justify has the aura of a victor. He was the first horse in more than 100 years to win the Derby without ever having raced as a two-year-old horse, The New York Times reported.
Smith, 52, is the second-oldest Kentucky Derby victor behind Bill Shoemaker, who rode Ferdinand to victory in 1986 at age 54.
"I'll never forget it", Baffert said.
In the paddock before the race, Baffert told Smith, "The gas tank is full". Experience has made him wiser, he said.
"To do what he did in such a short time is fantastic", Smith said of Justify.