Tapwrit surged past favorite Irish War Cry in the stretch and edged clear under jockey Jose Ortiz to win by two lengths, becoming the fifth Belmont victor in nine years to skip the Preakness after competing in the Derby.
The two were neck and neck most of the race on Saturday until Tapwrit overtook him in the final stretch by two lengths.
Yes, he was thrilled at the prospect of aiming for a Triple Crown with convincing Derby victor Always Dreaming.
Pletcher is quietly building his Triple Crown race resume, which now is up to five wins for a trainer who will turn 50 in less than three weeks.
In a sport where history tends to repeat itself, a Pletcher horse got another dream trip, just as he did in Louisville with Always Dreaming on the First Saturday in May.
Tapwrit returned $12.60 to his backers for the win, $6.50 to place and $5 for show.
Smith said, "That was for Holy Bull", who was euthanized at the age of 26 this week and whom Smith rode to victory in the Met Mile in 1994, less than three months before he put together the greatest Travers victory I've ever seen.
It remains to be seen which 3-year-old will emerge, but it sets up the summer to be something special.
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"The last five weeks have been the ultimate roller coaster", Pletcher said, per Beth Harris of the Associated Press (h/t the Washington Post).
If Irish War Cry's jockey, Rajiv Maragh, was disappointed in coming up just short, he didn't show it after the race. "My horse is doing well". At the eighth pole, I thought we might be home free, but it's the Belmont. "It's a tough race".
The 2017 Belmont lost some of its global flavor when Japan's Epicharis, the UAE Derby's runner-up, was scratched after a morning vet check revealed a right front foot problem had failed to respond to treatment.
Gormley finished fourth, followed by Senior Investment, Twisted Tom, Lookin At Lee, Meantime, J Boys Echo and Multiplier.
During the race, long shot Hollywood Handsome ran up on rivals' heels in the run down the home stretch the first time. He guided the colt to the outside until he could be stopped.
Tapwrit (2) with jockey Jose Ortiz comes in first during the 2017 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on Sunday, June 10. "It looked like Irish War Cry still had a little something left, but in the last sixteenth, he dug down deep". Pletcher credited the decision for Tapwrit to skip the Preakness as a strong reason as to why the horse was victorious on Saturday.
Trainer Kiyoshi Hagiwara said via an interpreter in a statement released by New York Racing Association: "The horse is close to being able to compete, but we ran out of time".
Here are the significant numbers generated by the 149th running of the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes.
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