Epicharis, the early 4-1 second choice, was scratched on race morning after failing to recover from a hoof problem.
Tapwrit, ridden by Jose Ortiz, left, in black and white, and Irish War Cry, ridden by Rajiv Maragh, right, in green and yellow, race at the start of the 149th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race, Saturday, June 10, 2017, in Elmont, N.Y. Tapwrit won the race and Irish War Cry finished second.
The Todd Pletcher-trained, one-eyed Patch has Derby-winning jockey John Velazquez onboard after finishing 14th in Kentucky, while Pletcher's best prospect is likely to be Tapwrit, which was sixth in the Derby.
"It looked like Irish War Cry still had something left (but Tapwrit) really dug down deep".
There was no chance for a Triple Crown this year - and the winners of Kentucky Derby, Always Dreaming, and Preakness, Cloud Computing, were both out.
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The Belmont Stakes was first held at Jerome Park racetrack in the Bronx in 1867 - six years before the inaugural Preakness, eight years before the Kentucky Derby - before switching to nearby Morris Park in 1890 and then to Belmont Park, just outside Queens, in 1906. Is the Belmont Stakes finally the race where Lookin at Lee can pull off the win?
"Winning the Triple Crown is my ultimate dream, but he was training so well I got anxious about what we were going to do with Tapwrit", he said. But on Wednesday morning, news broke that Classic Empire would miss the Stakes because of an abscess in his foot, thinning an already lackluster group running without the possibility of a Triple Crown victor.
"I'm hoping for a good result because he's getting good support from Japan, the horsemen, and the other connections, so I'm sure that Japan is hoping for a good result", he said.
For the winning rider, Jose Ortiz, this was his first Belmont Stakes victory in three tries. Irish War Cry finished second while Patch took third. "I'm happy for the owners and for Todd for giving me the opportunity".
But the time was good enough to put away a talented Irish War Cry, who led most of the way after being pressed early by Mike Smith aboard Meantime.
Epicharis, a victor in four of five career starts, was the second choice in the morning line at 4-1. "We kind of hoped that somebody else would go for it, but he had to go to Plan B".
Trailing favorite Irish War Cry coming into the final turn at the monstrous track, Tapwrit exploded down the stretch.
NBCSN will air the races that will precede the Belmont Park Stakes race.