Tapwrit wins 2017 Belmont Stakes

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Tapwrit's victory also meant Pletcher, who also trained the Derby champ Always Dreaming, could boast that he swept two-thirds of the Triple Crown.

Pletcher became the first trainer since 1996 to win the Kentucky Derby and Belmont in the same year with different horses.

The Belmont victor, a $1.2 million yearling purchase at Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga yearling sale in 2015, is co-owned by Bridlewood Farm, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, and Robert LaPenta.

Tapwrit finished sixth of 20 at the Kentucky Derby last month.

The sun shined and the alcohol flowed on a warm and breezy early spring Saturday at Belmont Park, and the 149th running of the Belmont Stakes kicked off at 6:38 p.m.

"It's our home base and I think that's always an advantage", Pletcher said.

Of the favorites, I am keying in on Irish War Cry. Gormley finished fourth and completed the $2 superfecta of $4,486.

Tapwrit completed the mile-and-a-half journey in 2:30.02, a full second and a half slower than Creator's 2016 Belmont.

"It's not Woody Stephens' record, but it's an odd record", Romans said, in reference to his life-long idol, the late Hall of Fame trainer, who won five Belmonts in a row from 1982-86.

Trained by Graham Motion, the Curlin chestnut, Irish War Cry was an impressive victor of the Grade 2 Wood Memorial April 8 at Aqueduct and Grade 2 Holy Bull February 4 at Gulfstream Park. But he's a big horse, and both Hill and trainer Ken McPeek came out of Baltimore saying the Belmont would be right up his alley.

Derby win was awesome, and the ebbs and flows of this game are well-documented. Ultimately, the leader for most of the race was unable to hold the lead and Tapwrit came through with the win.

Hoppert: The Tesio Stakes victor is steadily improving and has a pedigree that suggests he may like the mile-and-a-half distance. "Fortunately, it all fell into place".

So this grand Long Island racetrack, the site of Triple Crown coronations for immortal horses like Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed and, most recently, American Pharoah, was more or less an audition stage for a bunch of unproven 3-year-olds, any one of whom might evolve into a future powerhouse.

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Drape: This Japanese invader can take down a $1 million bonus from the New York Racing Association if he wins. The connections of Always Dreaming and Preakness victor Cloud Computing elected not to run.

The colt will be shipped back to Japan on Thursday.

All that left it a wide-open race, and in the end it was Tapwrit that proved he was up to the grueling 1 1/2-mile challenge.

"Tapwrit was getting a handsome trip", Pletcher said. "We got exactly the position that we had talked about with Jose prior to the race. We still have time, so we will give him the best care we can".

New Mexico's own jockey Mike Smith was aboard the horse Meantime, but it would be Tapwrit who would emerge victorious after holding off Irish War Cry down the stretch.

It left an 11-runner field which saw Rajiv Maragh make all the running on Irish War Cry and the pair seemed to be travelling comfortably as he galloped around the racecourse known as the "Big Sandy".

Tapwrit, meanwhile, settled in third, right behind the dueling leaders.

Tapwrit returned $12.60, $6.50 and $5 across the board for a $2 bet.

It took a while for Tapwrit to find his best gear. Finishing in second was Irish War Cry, followed by Patch in third.

"At the eighth pole, I thought was might be home free", Motion said, "but it's the Belmont". It's a tough race.

Hoppert: He has beaten Classic Empire and Cloud Computing, but his up-and-down year continued when he finished 10th in the Derby. "I nearly went down and I lost my stirrup". He showed no signs of fatigue as jockey Jose Ortiz charged with him past Irish War Cry on the outside and through the finish line for the victory.

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