Belmont Stakes up for grabs to end uneven Triple Crown

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The Japanese-bred Epicharis was scratched from the race early Saturday morning. Purse: $1.5 million. First place: $800,000.

Hoppert: The distance could be an issue for the ninth-place finisher in the Derby, but he is the lone Grade 1 victor in the field (with two).

When the main event hit the track, though, with Frank Sinatra's traditional "New York, New York" piping over the PA, the 149th Belmont Stakes was all-New York, baby.

As a yearling in 2015, he walked into the Fasig-Tipton sales ring in Saratoga Springs and walked out of the ring as the property of Bridlewood Farm, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Yonkers native Robert LaPenta, who shelled out $1.2 million for the then-unnamed son of Tapit.

ELMONT, N.Y. -? Belmont Park crowned another champion Saturday - just not one of the triple variety.

J Boys Echo is one of five Belmont runners who skipped the Preakness after running in the Derby, a route taken past year by Belmont victor Creator.

The 23-year-old native of Puerto Rico saw his horse respond. Throw that race out and his other three starts are all pretty good.

The win by Tapwrit also capped off a fantastic Triple Crown season for trainer Todd Pletcher.

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So now there are a matching set of Ortiz brothers with Belmont Stakes victories, winners for two years running. It was the race's smallest turnout since 2013 and a far cry from the 90,000 that watched American Pharoah end the sport's 37-year Triple Crown drought two years ago. "Tapwrit was getting a attractive trip", Pletcher added. "This is where we live, this is where my children go to high school and this is home. This is home. It's extra special". Stamping himself as a Triple Crown contender after powerfully annexing the GII Tampa Bay Derby Mar. 11, the $1.2 million Fasig-Tipton August buy was a boring fifth in the GII Toyota Blue Grass S. and ran sixth with traffic trouble in the GI Kentucky Derby May 6. This was the second straight year and the 10th time in the past 19 years that the Belmont victor skipped the Preakness after running in the Kentucky Derby.

In the 11-horse field for the 2017 Belmont Stakes, you wouldn't find either Always Dreaming or Cloud Computing.

It appeared the popular one-eyed colt, raced wide throughout the mile-and-a-half contest and was under riding before the turn, would finish out of the placings as he'd done in the Kentucky Derby, but he toughed it out over the final three furlongs and appeared to be making headway on the line.

"This is our home", he said. "So at least today he showed some of his true colors, so I'm really happy about that".

Always Dreaming won on Saturday, May 6, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. In fact, I think it's beyond his actual limit. In the saddle, Ortiz kept composed, and once he moved his horse alongside the pre-race favourite, there was only going to be one outcome.

Tapwrit is training well and has been on trainer Todd Pletcher's Belmont list for a while.

"I was a lot more disappointed after the Derby, because I know what the horse is capable of, and [he] didn't show it on Derby day", Maragh said.

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