And while there was no pent-up anguish this time around to vigorously stoke enthusiasm, Justify, ridden by the 52-year-old ironman Mike Smith, did not disappoint the crowd as he captured the 150th Belmont Stakes and become just the 13th Triple Crown victor.
The race will mark the 150th running of the Belmont.
The 4-5 favorite's wire-to-wire victory means an $800,000 share of the overall $1.5 million purse and millions in future stud fees for the three-year-old chestnut colt, who beat nine other horses to take the victory.
Still, this was Justify's sixth race since mid-February, and his previous two had come on sloppy tracks, surely taking a toll.
Justify is the first horse to win the Crown since American Pharaoh broke a decades-long drought in 2015.
He is owned by China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing & WinStar Farm and was sired by Scat Daddy, who won the Champagne Stakes and the Florida Derby.
But Justify, like all the great thoroughbreds, found "another gear", Baffert said.
With Justify's victory, Bob Baffert became the second trainer to win the Triple Crown twice. This time, we're just looking back to a time when Barack Obama was still President and Donald Trump was not yet a candidate for President.
"I was so happy for him when he won", said Smith.
The fashion scene at the Belmont Stakes is as diverse as NY itself. American Pharoah, he'll always be my first love.
Justify is the first Triple Crown victor to face that many rivals in Belmont. I think in each race I had the second-best horse and that's the way it went.
"Bob has helped me achieve so many of my goals, but today, man, he made my dream come true", an emotional Smith said. As he crossed the finish line, the race caller exclaimed, "American Pharoah is finally the one!"
Justify improved to six wins in as many starts and joined Seattle Slew as the only undefeated 3-year-olds to sweep the Triple Crown. We saw another Triple Crown victor.
If there's a common theme among the crowd, it's the desire to take a selfie to bear witness to their attendance at Justify's bid for the Triple Crown. On a fast, dry track, Justify was just as good in his third race in five weeks at his third different track.
Smith is clearly at the top of his game in a sport where jockeys are riding less and less in their 50s.
"They're two awesome horses, but I have to say American Pharoah is better", he said.
The morning after the Belmont Stakes questions quickly turned to what's next for the newest Triple Crown victor.
"I just couldn't keep it inside of me", Smith told CBN News.
"The gates were set off away from the fence a little bit", he said.
"He left there like he was going 440 (yards) at Ruidoso, N.M.", said Smith, a native of Roswell, N.M.