New York=based trainer Todd Pletcher didn’t have a horse good enough to win the crown jewel of thoroughbred racing this year, but his barn still had a fantastic Triple Crown run.
With Tapwrit overtaking favored Irish War Cry down the stretch to win Saturday’s Belmont Stakes by two length, Pletcher won two of the three races while also picking up his third overall win at the Belmont.
With Jose Ortiz aboard Saturday, Tapwrit ran the 1 1/2 mile race in 2:30.02, taking the lead in the stretch run. .
Always Dreaming, also trained by Pletcher, won the Kentucky Derby. Tapwrit finished sixth in the Derby and then skipped the Preakness to train for the Belmont. which is his home track.
“We felt like with the five weeks in between, and with the way this horse had trained, he had a legitimate chance,” said Pletcher. “I think that’s always an advantage.”
Neither Derby winner Always Dreaming or Preakness winner Cloud Computing competed in the Belmont.
The win-place-show finish: Tapwrit, Irish War Cry and Patch — a one-eyed horse also trained by Pletcher. Tapwrit paid $12.60, $6.50 and $5 at 5-1 odds. Irish War Cry, the 5-2 favorite, paid $4.70 and $3.90. Patch returned $6.50 to show.
Gormley was fourth, followed by Senior Investment, Twisted Tom, Lookin At Lee, Meantime, J Boys Echo and Multiplier. Hollywood Handsome did not finish.
Afterward, Pletcher was asked about his success in two of the three big races this season.
“I think each of these races individually stand on their own as major, major races and huge wins,” said Pletcher. “You know, the Derby win was awesome, and the ebbs and flows of this game are well-documented.
“The last five weeks has been the ultimate roller coaster for us. But we felt really good coming in actually that both horses (Tapwrit and Patch) were doing very well, and we felt like both horses suited the mile-and-a-half distance. They have the right running styles, they have the right disposition, right pedigrees, so we were just fortunate it fell into place.”
Pletcher said that Tapwrit gave him confidence after his finish in the Derby that he could win the Belmont. And for Pletcher, if he’s not going to have a shot at winning the Triple Crown, the one race he prefers to win is this one.
“This is our home base. This is where we live. This is where my children go to high school, and this is home,” said Pletcher. “We’ve been very fortunate now to have won three …. it seems for whatever reason to kind of suit our style well.”