Triple Crown winner Justify is a horse with a Canadian connection

After winning the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, Justify became the thirteenth horse in history to become a U.S. Triple Crown champion — and the horse has a Canadian connection.

“From his first start, you could see that he was a very, very impressive colt,” John Gunther of Langley, B.C., who , told CTV Vancouver before the race.

Justify is only the second horse since 1978 to , widely considered the greatest accomplishment in thoroughbred racing, which comes from winning three high-profile U.S. races: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

After winning the first two races earlier this year, Justify was the clear favourite to win Saturday’s race in Elmont, New York.

At The Derby Bar and Grill in Surrey, B.C. fans packed in to cheer Justify — and Gunther — on Saturday.

“I’d like to see John win the race!” Lyle Johnson told CTV Vancouver from the bar.

“The whole world is watching this,” Jim Filippone added. “And to have it right in our backyard is unbelievably special.”

Justify was bred by Gunther and his daughter, Tanya Gunther, at . Tanya Gunther was responsible for choosing the chestnut colt’s parents.

“Justify has surprised me and others throughout his life,” she told The Canadian Press. “He just seems a class apart in everything he‘s done."

With files from CTV Vancouver’s Breanna Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press and The Associated Press