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Tapwrit Wears Down Irish War Cry to Win Belmont Stakes
20 June 2017, 04:39 | Max Haynes
Tapwrit covered the mile-and-a-half Belmont Stakes course in 2:30:02
Aqueduct, New York's base for winter racing, was a place to go between meets at Belmont and Saratoga.
It was a thrilling showdown in NY amid concerns the race wouldn't live up to expectations after some key withdrawals, with Classic Empire and Epicharis pulling out of contention prior to Saturday's contest.
Someone had to win the 149th running of the Belmont Stakes, and as the field of 11 mostly maligned horses edged into the starting gate, the odds board was a patchwork of indecision with no clear favorites and few bettors backing up their convictions with cold hard cash.
It was an up-and-down season for Tapwrit, too - well, more like a down-and-up season. He was a finalist in last year's Eclipse voting for top jockey. He holds 26 meet titles in NY, including 12 at Saratoga.
Irish War Cry paid $4.70 and $3.90 while Patch, another Pletcher-trained horse, returned $6.50 to show.
For the second year in a row, no horse will have a chance at the prestigious Triple Crown at the 2017 Belmont Stakes.
Pletcher took two of the year's three Triple Crown races. Irish War Cry skipped the Preakness.
In a sport where history tends to repeat itself, a Pletcher horse got another dream trip, just as he did in Louisville with Always Dreaming on the First Saturday in May. "This is where we live, this is where my children go to high school and this is home. This is home. It's extra special". For Rags to Riches to be our first American classic win, it's a race that's been so good to us and we've been very fortunate now to win three.
Tapwrit finished sixth in the 20-horse Derby after encountering traffic in what Pletcher described as "a sneaky good" race.
There are 12 3-year-olds entered in the 11/2-mile Belmont with the lukewarm favorite being the Graham Motion-trained Irish War Cry, who is 7-2.
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The first four all followed a well-worn path - run in the Derby, miss the Preakness and come back fresh for the Belmont. The horse finished second in the 2015 Breeders' Cup Mile and won last year's Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
"It could not have unfolded any better", Pletcher said.
The two weeks between the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! "We still have time, so we will give him the best care we can". I think that's every trainers ultimate dream.
Jose Ortiz added, "It's an unbelievable feeling that I can't explain".
As Mor Spirit crossed the finish line, track announcer Larry Collmus bellowed, "Bob Baffert and Mike Smith are un-". "The last five weeks have been the ultimate roller coaster".
But Pletcher isn't going anywhere.
Swiss watchmaker Longines are the Official Timekeeper and Watch of the 2017 edition of the Triple Crown series, and owner, trainer and jockey were all presented with elegant Longines timepieces to honour their victory.
"We were hoping we might get a little bit of a stalking trip, but we had to go to Plan B and Rajiv did a great job", said Motion.
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