Tapwrit wins 149th Belmont Stakes

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Two out of three ain't bad.

The sun shined and the alcohol flowed on a warm and breezy early spring Saturday at Belmont Park, and the 149th running of the Belmont Stakes kicked off at 6:38 p.m. Obviously the third leg of the Triple Crown always has a bit of intrigue due to the length of the race.

"Unbelievable", Jose Ortiz said of his first Belmont victory.

As I explain below, the value just isn't there in the favorite tonight, so might as well roll the dice on one of the long-shots. "I'm happy for the owners and for Todd for giving me the opportunity". Tapwrit entered the race at 5-1 odds, while Irish War Cry entered with 3-1 odds.

The rule: The "unique" share, which is 15 percent of the day's pool, will be paid if only one ticket holder correctly selected the victor in all 6 races.

Will Irish War Cry emerge victorious this evening at the Belmont Stakes?

Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Tapwrit ran 1 1/2 miles in 2:30.02 on his home track on Saturday. He earned $800,000 for his owners, Bridlewood Farm, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Robert LaPenta, and with a record of 4-1-0 from eight starts, has earned $1,143,902, nearly as much as his purchase price of $1.2 million at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton yearling sales in Saratoga Springs, New York. As the field of 11 made its way around the backstretch and into the final turn, Meantime began to fade and gave up the lead to jockey Rajiv Maragh and Irish War Cry.

Graham Motion took Irish War Cry back to his base in Fair Hill, Md. and started planning a summer campaign.

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"The distance, I was sure he could handle it", Ortiz said. At the eighth pole, I thought we might be home free, but it's the Belmont. She was Pletcher's first Belmont victor, and he won his second in 2013 with Palace Malice, who was 12th in his Derby before awaiting the Belmont.

Always Dreaming won on Saturday, May 6, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. "We were hoping he had enough when it came crunch time".

Irish War Cry led for the first 11 of the race's 12 furlongs but could not last.

While the winning jockey celebrated, his brother Irad had to settle for seventh on Lookin At Lee. He has steadily been gaining more notoriety, riding mostly on the NYRA circuit.

A year later, they were on top in the Belmont.

Gormley was fourth, meaning that of the five horses who ran in the Belmont exiting the Derby, four swept the superfecta. Tapwrit had a rough start in the Kentucky Derby and found himself farther off the pace than usual before rallying down the homestretch. He ran a very game race.

As Mor Spirit crossed the finish line, track announcer Larry Collmus bellowed, "Bob Baffert and Mike Smith are un-". The nine horses that hit the board in the Triple Crown were by nine different stallions. "The last five weeks have been the ultimate roller coaster".

While there was no Triple Crown chance this year, the series delivered three quality races with exciting finishes to each.