Published: Fri, June 16, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Tapwrit Closes Out 2017 Triple Crown Trail With Belmont Score

Let's not keep anyone in suspense - a colt named Tapwrit passed the favorite, Irish War Cry, down the stretch and legged out a 2-length victory in the 1½-mile marathon in a final time of 2:30.02. The winners of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, respectively, weren't in the field as they chose to ready for the summer season rather than run the third leg of the Triple Crown.

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. Early favorite Classic Empire had to withdraw because of injury, and then Japanese wild card Epicharis was scratched Saturday morning because of injury as well.

Jose Ortiz said the difference between the Belmont and the Kentucky Derby, in which Tapwrit was sixth, was the longer distance Saturday. Irish War Cry is the most talented horse in today's field.

There may have been no Triple Crown on the line this year, but don't try to tell someone like Pletcher that the race lacked meaning.

The Belmont run fit with Irish War Cry's up-and-down form cycle.

"It looked like Irish War Cry still had something left (but Tapwrit) really dug down deep". (His name is, ironically, not derived from the missing eye.) So if the Belmont belonged to anybody, it was Pletcher, who had won the race twice before.

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.

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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.

Tapwrit paid $12.60, $6.50 and $5 at 5-1 odds.

"The last five weeks have been the ultimate roller coaster", Pletcher said, per Beth Harris of the Associated Press (h/t the Washington Post).

Neither was Cloud Computing, which won the Preakness three weeks ago. "I knew I had him when I passed the eighth pole".

"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". It's a tough race. That threw jockey Florent Geroux out of his crouch, which in turn led to him slipping his irons.

It is the oldest event in American horse racing's esteemed Triple Crown, and - with the nickname of "Test of the Champion" - it is perhaps the hardest to win.

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