Tapwrit beats Irish War Cry to win Belmont Stakes

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Tapwrit won the 149th running of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, defeating favorite Irish War Cry in the race's final stretch in Belmont Park, New York.

Kentucky Derby victor Always Dreaming skipped the race, as did Preakness Stakes victor Cloud Computing.

The horse, who had had a 5:1 odds of winning, came out of second place to pass Irish War Cry, the favorite to win the race, at the very last minute.

Puerto Rican jockey Jose Ortiz guided Tapwrit to victory in the 149th Belmont Stakes here Saturday - a year after his elder brother triumphed in the prestigious U.S. racing showpiece.

It was a thrilling showdown in NY amid concerns the race wouldn't live up to expectations after some key withdrawals, with Classic Empire and Epicharis pulling out of contention prior to Saturday's contest.

"Tapwrit was getting a lovely trip". He won in 2007 with filly Rags to Riches and in 2013 with Palace Malice.

It's the day of the 2017 Preakness Stakes, which is set to start Saturday evening at Belmont Park. Tapwrit and Gormley were on almost even terms in third and fourth, and the one-eyed Patch was well up near the pace in fifth position.

Tapwrit then made his move down the final stretch, trying to catch Irish War Cry. Soon he was racing in NY.

Pletcher also owns Patch, the one-eyed horse that finished a disappointing 16th place at the Kentucky Derby.

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"It actually wasn't our plan to be on the lead", said Irish War Cry trainer Graham Motion.

NEW YORK (AP) - The Belmont Stakes is down to 11 horses after Epicharis was scratched after a veterinarian exam on Saturday morning.

"It was everything we talked about in the paddock before the race", Pletcher said.

For Todd Pletcher, thoroughbred racing's seven-time trainer of the year, it was the second Triple Crown victory of the season. He's the fifth horse in the past nine years to finish out of the money in the Derby, skip the Preakness and win the Belmont.

"It looked like Irish War Cry still had something left (but Tapwrit) really dug down deep".

"I think he ran a sneaky good race in the Derby", Pletcher said of Tapwrit.

As the pair pulled well clear of the remainder, Tapwrit wore down his opponent to win the $1.5 million contest, in which he was returned second favourite at almost 11-2; he stopped the clock at 2m30.02s.

In the weeks leading up to the Stakes, Classic Empire - the second finisher in the Preakness and fourth finisher in the Derby - emerged as a major favorite to win the race. "Right now they're very comfortable that the horse is comfortable and much better than he was two days ago".

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