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As Justify strides home down the long Belmont stretch Saturday, millions of fans and Belmont bettors will be pulling for him complete the Triple Crown. Should he record one of the fastest times in Belmont Stakes history, he’s certain to become the 13th Triple Crown champion in American racing. Justify and his connections will also become the first Triple Crown winner to be awarded the new Triple Crown trophy.
The New York Racing Association commissioned a redesigned piece by sculptor Roberto Santo, and the new trophy stands just over three feet tall and weighs nearly 50 pounds. It replaces the previous trophy that was 7 1/2 inches tall.
The new trophy features a three-sided base with the Triple Crown productions logo engraved. At the top of that base is a glass globe with the continents of the world.
Moving up from the base is a crown with jewels signifying the three tracks that host the races: Churchill Downs, Pimlico Race Course and Belmont Park. Above the crown is an inverted pyramid with the three race names on each of its sides: the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. top the inverted pyramid is a sculpture of a gold horse and rider striving for racing glory.
But perhaps a driving force behind the idea of a new trophy came from the NHL and Stanley Cup. In an effort to have more fans provided access to the distinguished trophy and promote the sports of horse racing and its signature events and achievements, the owners of the three Triple Crown tracks will rotate the trophy throughout the year: The Stronach Group, Churchill Downs Inc., and NYRA. Fans will have a chance see the trophy at different venues and tracks and pose for pictures with it. The winning owners of the Triple Crown would be given a single 26-inch replica of the trophy, while trainer Bob Baffert would receive an 18-inch replica if Justify wins the Belmont Stakes to complete the Triple Crown sweep.
“We’re going to try to rotate it so that it’s at the tracks when they have some of their best racing,” said NYRA President Chris Kay. So The Stronach Group will have it January, February, March; NYRA will have it June, July, August, and part of September; and Churchill Downs will have it in September, November, and May during the Kentucky Derby.