Tapwrit Wears Down Favorite Irish War Cry for Trainer Todd Pletcher’s 3rd Belmont Win
A Belmont Stakes preview showed Tapwrit and Irish War Cry as the two favorites to beat in a depleted Belmont field. It became more of a 2-horse race after Epicharis was scratched with continued inflammation in his right front foot. When the field turned for home in the 149th running of the Belmont Stakes, the two favorites turned it into a 2-horse stretch duel and Tapwrit proved to be too tough winning the final leg of the Triple Crown by 2 lengths over Irish War Cry.
Belmont-based trainer Todd Pletcher, proved again how tough he is in training his horses off the Kentucky Derby while skipping the Preakness. He won the Derby with Always Dreaming, but didn’t have a Triple Crown shot when his Derby winner faded in the Preakness. He left Always Dreaming out of the Belmont Stakes, but had the high-priced and talented Tapwrit determined and ready for the distance and challenge of the Belmont. And Tapwrit proved to be best in the ‘Test of the Champion’.
“I’ve said all along I think he ran a very sneaky-good race in the Derby,” Pletcher began after the win in the 2017 Belmont Stakes noting that this race was, “everything we talked about in the paddock before the race. We were hoping he had enough when it came to crunch time. It looked like Irish War Cry still had something left, but the last sixteenth, he dug down deep.”
Settled along the rail at the start, Tapwrit tracked the front runners and was sitting 4th at the half-mile marker behind the leader Irish War Cry. Meantime was pushing the pace before fading along the far turn while Gormely was game with the leaders. But jockey Jose Ortiz gave Tapwrit some encouragement as they rounded the far sweeping turn, and the striking gray began his gallop home down the long Belmont stretch. He dug in deep stretch and ultimately wore down Irish War Cry and was clearly best in the finish.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling that I can’t explain,” said jockey Jose Ortiz, who won his first Triple Crown race. “I’m very happy right now. … The distance—I was sure he could handle it. It was a great training job by Todd. I always liked him and had a lot of faith in him. Today he showed up.”
For the ninth time in the last 10 Belmont Stakes, the race favorite failed to win. But Tapwrit rewarded his connections with an $800,000 first-place prize and as the second-favorite at 6-1 odds, he returned $12.80, $6.50 and $5.00. Favorite Irish War Cry finished 2nd to pay $4.70 and $3.90 while Patch (12-1) was more than 5 lengths further behind in 3rd and returned $6.50. A $2 trifecta wagers on 2-7-12 was rewarded with a $624 score. The remaining order of finish that earned prize money was Gormley, Senior Investment, Twisted Tom and Lookin At Lee. The final time was 2:30.02.
More than 57,000 fans were on hand for Belmont’s biggest day of racing that featured 10 stakes races. Trainer Todd Pletcher won his 3rd Belmont Stakes and one of New York’s annual leading riders Jose Ortiz won his first Triple Crown race guiding Tapwrit down the long stretch and to the winners circle.
“This is our home”, Pletcher said. “This is where I make my living. It’s where my kids go to school. It means a lot.”