ELMONT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Tapwrit overtook favored Irish War Cry in the stretch to win the Belmont Stakes by two lengths Saturday, giving trainer Todd Pletcher his third career victory in the final leg of the Triple Crown.
Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Tapwrit ran 1 1/2 miles in 2:30.02 on his home track. Ortiz’s brother Irad won the race last year with Creator.
“The distance, I was sure he could handle it,” Ortiz said.
Tapwrit finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby and skipped the Preakness. Five of the last nine Belmont winners have followed that same path.
“We felt like with the five weeks in between, and with the way this horse had trained, that he had a legitimate chance,” said Pletcher, who is based at Belmont Park. “I think that’s always an advantage.”
Pletcher took two of the year’s three Triple Crown races, having saddled Always Dreaming to victory in the Derby.
Tapwrit paid $12.60, $6.50 and $5 at 5-1 odds. The 3-year-old gray colt was purchased for $1.2 million, making him the most expensive horse in the field.
Irish War Cry returned $4.70 and $3.90 as the 5-2 favorite, while Patch, the one-eyed horse trained by Pletcher, paid $6.50 to show.
The $1.5 million race took several hits before the starting gate opened.
“Tapwrit was getting a beautiful trip,” Pletcher said. “It was everything we talked about in the paddock before the race. We were hoping he had enough when it came to crunch time. It looked like Irish War Cry still had a little something left, but the last sixteenth, he dug down deep.”
Gormley finished fourth, followed by Senior Investment, Twisted Tom, Lookin At Lee, Meantime, J Boys Echo and Multiplier.
Hollywood Handsome was pulled up after jockey Florent Geroux lost his irons in the first turn and guided the horse to the outside until he could be stopped.
As CBS2’s Erin Logan reported, it’s the final Triple Crown event of the year. The event in Elmont was expected to draw tens of thousands of spectators.
Excitement was in the air and security was tight Saturday as tens of thousands packed Belmont Park.
One crew from Long Branch has been coming out for 15 years in a row.
“We’ve done this before,” Long Branch resident Mike Parshley said, “and it’s not alcohol drinks in here I promise you.”
Mike says the yearly tradition is made even more exciting if there’s a possibility for a Triple Crown winner. Sadly, that isn’t the case in this year’s race — Always Dreaming, who won the Kentucky Derby, and Preakness Stakes winner Cloud computing will not partake Saturday.
But many were watching for a very special horse, a beautiful bay colt named Patch.
Patch developed a tumor in his left eye, which ultimately couldn’t be saved. He quickly had to learn to run using only his right eye.
Many long-time residents in Elmont noticed heightened security preparations underway on Friday.
“You never can tell who wants to do damage, you know, so I think for me seeing security people in place for a special event should make anyone feel safer,” Babatunde Folorunsho told CBS2.
You won’t have to go far to notice the heightened security, with dozens of security personnel working both inside and outside the park.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)