Tapwrit might write winning ticket for Belmont Stakes bettors

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Though Always Dreaming and Cloud Competing - the previous winners of the Derby and Preakness, respectively - didn't race, the absence of any clear favorite did make for an interesting outing in any case. They won the 2016 Belmont with Creator.

Things have a way of working out for Pletcher, victor of a record seven Eclipse Awards as the leading trainer in North America, and they worked out again this time.

"I don't think there's any secret that Jose's been a rising star for the last few years, and he's just a phenomenal rider", Pletcher said. "I always liked him and we always had a lot of faith in him", Ortiz said.

Last year's 3-year-old champion, Arrogate, is now the best horse in the world and his first graded stake was in last year's Travers, so anything can happen as we head into the summer months. The field was missing the winners of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, plus Epicharis was a late scratch.

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.

The trainer of the winners of the first two Triple Crown races are represented in the Belmont.

Ultimately, it was the patience of Tapwrit that gave him and jockey Jose Ortiz the victory. "It's an unbelievable feeling that I can't explain", said Ortiz.

Lookin At Lee - who entered the Stakes at 6-1 odds - was the only horse to run all three legs of the Triple Crown, and he finished in seventh place.

"Tapwrit was getting a handsome trip", trainer Todd Pletcher said. 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", said Pletcher, who took Triple Crown hopeful Always Dreaming into the Preakness this spring but saw the Kentucky Derby-winning horse falter and finish eighth.

At the top of the stretch, Ortiz moved Tapwrit into second place, and with five cracks of his left-handed whip and two more with his right hand, Tapwrit rallied past Irish War Cry at the sixteenth pole for the victory.

Irish War Cry held on to finish 5 ¾ lengths head of Patch-also trained by Pletcher-with Gormley along for fourth. Go back to March and it was looking like he might be the Kentucky Derby favorite.

"But we felt really good coming in that actually both horses were doing very well and were suited to the mile and half, with the right running styles and the right disposition, the right pedigrees".

The Belmont already lost expected favorite Classic Empire on Wednesday because of an abscess in his right front hoof.

Tapwrit also became the third Belmont victor in the past four years to be sired by the leading North American stallion Tapit, following Tonalist in 2014 and Creator last year. He was the second choice in the morning line at 4-1.

Neither was Cloud Computing, which won the Preakness three weeks ago.

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