Tapwrit captures final jewel for Pletcher

Ross Houston
June 16, 2017

This was the second straight year and the 10th time in the past 19 years that the Belmont victor skipped the Preakness after running in the Kentucky Derby.

Epicharis received a treatment of the legal anti-inflammatory Phenylbutazone, or bute, on Wednesday for what was described as lameness in his right front leg.

"We really were hoping that Always Dreaming could take a shot at coming in for a Triple Crown try".

Pletcher is also the trainer for Patch, who finished third Saturday. The already thin group of remaining horses lost another one of its favorites when Japan-based Epicharis failed the pre-race veterinary exam.

Irish War Cry's owner, De Tomaso Isabelle, paid $150,000 to breed the mare Irish Sovereign to Curlin, expecting blue- blood results and for the majority of the race it looked like he was going to notch one of racing's biggest prizes. Lookin at Lee finished second and fourth at Churchill Downs and Pimlico respectively, but running in all three Triple Crown events can take its toll.

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. Ultimately, it was the patience of Tapwrit that gave him and jockey Jose Ortiz the victory. The 5-2 favorite fought on for most of the stretch, but the final stages were Tapwrit's, as the Tapit colt powered past near the sixteenth pole to win by two lengths.

Todd Pletcher-trained Tapwrit entered the long home straight in second place and gradually drew level with 5/2 favourite Irish War Cry, before pulling away over the final half-furlong to win by two lengths in two minutes and 30.02 seconds for the 1.5-mile distance.

The Belmont Stakes was first held at Jerome Park racetrack in the Bronx in 1867 - six years before the inaugural Preakness, eight years before the Kentucky Derby - before switching to nearby Morris Park in 1890 and then to Belmont Park, just outside Queens, in 1906.

Tapwrit is trained by Todd Pletcher, who five weeks ago won the Kentucky Derby with Always Dreaming and his go-to rider, John Velazquez, who rode Patch to a third-place finish in the Belmont.

Epicharis, the second choice in the race, would have been eligible for a US$1 million bonus from the New York Racing Association (NYRA) if he had won. Pletcher is the first trainer since D. Wayne Lukas (1996) to have different horses win the Kentucky Derby and Belmont.

"I was sure that he could handle it".

"That's always an advantage", Pletcher said. He saddled victor Always Dreaming in the Derby. Trainer Graham Motion told USA Today his colt is ready.

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