Tapwrit guns down Belmont Stakes favourite
Jockey Jose Ortiz wins third leg of US Triple Crown a year after his brother's triumph
Puerto Rican jockey Jose Ortiz guided TAPWRIT to victory in the 149th Belmont Stakes yesterday morning (Singapore time), a year after his elder brother Irad triumphed in the prestigious US racing showpiece.
Tapwrit, a 5-1 shot for the New York event which is the third leg of American racing's Triple Crown, stunned favourite Irish War Cry in the final stretch.
PERFECTLY TIMED LATE CHARGE
The horse trained by Todd Pletcher produced a perfectly timed late charge to surge clear and take the line honours and the US$$800,000 (S$1.1 million) first prize.
Jose's victory came 12 months after his brother won the 2,400m classic on Creator. Irad was in the field again, riding the Kentucky-based Looking at Lee, trained by Steven Asmussen, but did not place.
However, the two brothers shared a hug in celebration at a family double as they galloped back to the paddock after the win.
"It's unbelievable," said Jose.
"I can't explain, I'm very happy right now, very happy for the owners who gave me the ride."
Asked about what his win meant to his brother, Jose said: "He had his, his run today for his connections, of course. But I'm sure he's happy for me just like I felt happy for him last year."
Victorious trainer Pletcher was delighted at the performance of Jose and Tapwrit in upsetting the favourite.
"Tapwrit was getting a beautiful trip," Pletcher said.
"It was everything we talked about in the paddock before the race. We were just hoping he had enough in the tank when it came to the crunch.
"It looked like Irish War Cry had something left but, in that last stretch (Tapwrit) really dug down deep."
Tapwrit had also benefited from the New York-based Pletcher's local knowledge.
"It's our home base, so it's always an advantage," Pletcher acknowledged.
Third place went to Patch, with Gormley finishing fourth.
A field which contained neither Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming nor Preakness victor Cloud Computing was diminished further early when highly rated Japanese colt Epicharis was suddenly scratched following a veterinary examination.
The horse's participation had been in doubt since mid-week after he failed to train at the track on Thursday or Friday following a problem with his right front foot.
A veterinary exam ruled the horse was not fit to take part in the Belmont.
"This was a minor issue, but the team has done a great job to care for the horse over the past few days, and while we are greatly disappointed for the fans of Epicharis, we have to face the fact that he is not able to compete today," trainer Kiyoshi Hagiwara said in a statement. - AFP