Belmont Stakes Wide Open As Favorites Pull Out

Triple Crown: While Always Dreaming won the Kentucky Derby, it was Cloud Computing who won the Preakness, which means there's no Triple Crown on the line for this year's Belmont Stakes.

Tapwrit (2) with jockey Jose Ortiz comes in first during the 2017 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on Sunday, June 10.

"Having seen him train, having seen the result of the Preakness, I think we need to take a shot", said trainer Graham Motion.

So now there are a matching set of Ortiz brothers with Belmont Stakes victories, winners for two years running.

"It looked like Irish War Cry still had something left (but Tapwrit) really dug down deep".

Irish War Cry is another with significant chances after being rested for the Preakness Stakes following an uncharacteristic flat performance in the Kentucky Derby. Tapwrit finished sixth at Churchill Downs, a feat that Boston Globe writer Joe Sullivan considers "laudable" considering the traffic problems Tapwrit faced in the Derby.

Pletcher's jubilation at winning his third Belmont Stakes was compounded by the performance of his stable's other runner, fairytale galloper Patch, who rallied strongly to finish third, five lengths behind his stablemate.

Tapwrit had 5/1 odds paying $12.60 on a bet to win.

"It's a feeling I can't explain I'm very happy right now", Ortiz said after the race, adding that the horse's owners "always had a lot of faith in him". "Great training job by Todd", Ortiz told race broadcaster NBC.

Completing the order of finish were Senior Investment, Twisted Tom, Looking At Lee-the only horse to have competed in all three legs of racing's Triple Crown this year-Meantime, J Boys Echo, Multiplier, and Hollywood Handsome, who was eased.

"That's always an advantage", Pletcher said. Only 12 horses have completed the Triple Crown at Belmont - the last, and first for 37 years, was American Pharoah in 2015 while California Chrome was the last to be denied in 2014.

Irish War Cry inherited the role of favorite after Classic Empire was forced out earlier in the week with an abscess in his hoof. Patch, the one-eyed horse trained by Pletcher, took third in the Belmont after being 14th in the Derby. It's a tough race.

Epicharis, the early 4-1 second choice, was scratched Saturday morning after failing a pre-race veterinary exam. Jockey Florent Geroux was forced to snatch up and, in doing so, lost both of his stirrup irons. Most of his rivals were in trouble as they turned for home but Tapwrit, with jockey Jose Ortiz at the helm, emerged from just off the pace with a strong challenge.

  • Julie Sanders