Tapwrit denies Jersey-bred, Irish War Cry his Belmont glory

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Tapwrit won the 149th running of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday using a huge surge of energy late in the race to overtake the field in the final furlongs of the 1.5-mile Belmont Park track.

"The horse was close to being able to compete but we ran out of time", trainer Kiyoshi Hagiwara said through a translator. They want to be in a tactical position.

Always Dreaming and Cloud Computing will likely line up for that one, while Classic Empire's camp will be desperate to see him get a big race win on the board in 2017.

It was the third Belmont Stakes victory for Pletcher, who also trained this year's Kentucky Derby victor Always Dreaming.

"It actually wasn't our plan to be on the lead", Motion, the Dubai World Cup-winning trainer, said.

Japanese-trained Epicharis also joined the ranks of absentees on the morning of the race when the vets deemed him unfit to run after lameness issues, which left Graham Motion-trained Irish War Cry as the 5-2 favorite in an 11-runner field.

Epicharis, thought to have a big shot to give Japan its first Belmont victor, was scratched the morning of the race when a veterinary exam revealed continued inflammation in his right front foot.

It was the first Triple Crown race victory for Ortiz, and it came a year after his brother, Irad, won the Belmont aboard Creator. Tucked in along the rail with Gormley to his outside, Tapwrit and Ortiz waited patiently behind the leaders.

Irish War Cry held on to finish second, while Meantime faded to an eighth-place showing. "I think that's always an advantage".

Pletcher described Tapwrit's run as a "beautiful trip". At the eighth pole, I thought we might be home free, but it's the Belmont.

All-source wagering on the Belmont Stakes itself was $47,163,773.

Having moved the horse into second place, Ortiz delivered a telling burst three-quarters of the way down the home stretch to set up victory before wearing down his opponent in the final metres to win by two lengths.

"We were hoping he had enough when it came to crunchtime", said Pletcher. Many were questioning which Irish War Cry showed up for the Belmont.

Hollywood Handsome didn't finish the race because of a cut in his foot, and Lookin At Lee seemed to struggle throughout. Ironically, 10 years ago in the Belmont, Curlin was caught in deep stretch by Pletcher's first Belmont victor, the filly Rags to Riches.

Jose Ortiz said the difference between the Belmont and the Kentucky Derby, in which Tapwrit was sixth, was the longer distance Saturday.

If Irish War Cry's jockey, Rajiv Maragh, was disappointed in coming up just short, he didn't show it after the race.

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