Tapwrit captures final jewel for Pletcher

Tapwrit overtook favored Irish War Cry in the stretch to win by two lengths Saturday, giving trainer Todd Pletcher his third career victory in the Belmont.

The grey son of champion sire Tapit duly became his trainer's third victor of the race after Rags To Riches (2007) and Palace Malice (2012); the victory also means Pletcher won two legs of this year's Triple Crown following the Kentucky Derby triumph of Always Dreaming. While Always Dreaming sat out the Belmont, Tapwrit and Patch, who finished sixth and fourteenth, respectively, in the Kentucky Derby and sat out of the Preakness, stepped in.

The field was cut to 11 when Epicharis, a 4-1 favorite was scratched from the race earlier Saturday after a veterinarian exam revealed continued inflammation in the colt's right front hoof.

Cali-based trainer Bob Baffert won the Easy Goer with a horse named - wait for it - West Coast, then went on a scorched-earth rampage across the grounds, going 4-for-4, all in graded stakes, by a combined 14 1/4 lengths and racking up nearly $1.4 million in purse money in the process.

But as the footage above shows, we still got an absorbing race.

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.

Jose Ortiz was aboard Tapwrit on Saturday for the jockey's first victory in a Triple Crown race. The Belmont was a bit of payback against Irish War Cry, since that colt crashed into Tapwrit coming out of the starting gate in the Derby and compromised his chance to win.

It took a while for Tapwrit to find his best gear. It was the eighth time a trainer has won Triple Crown races in the same year with two different horses.

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. It's a bit longer than both the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby, adding an element of anything can happen.

Tapwrit has won the 2017 Belmont Stakes, defeating favorite Irish War Cry.

Many fans weren't happy when Always Dreaming faltered in the Preakness three weeks ago, which meant that there would be no Triple Crown attempt in NY.

"Tapwrit was getting a lovely trip", said Pletcher. "It looked like Irish War Cry still had a little something left, but in the last sixteenth, he dug down deep".

"We talked about it, but we felt like Jose fit the horse well; he'd done nothing wrong", Pletcher said. "It's a feeling I can't explain right now".

For the winning jockey, the Belmont win evened the score with his brother and fellow rider Irad Ortiz, Jr., who won last year's Belmont with Creator.

  • Zachary Reyes