What does that mean? The Tampa Bay victor caught front running favorite Irish War Cry at the sixteenth pole before a raucous crowd of 57,729 race fans in the 149th Belmont.
Epicharis has not raced since finishing second in the UAE Derby on March 25.
It is a tribute similar to the blanket or roses, and black-eyed Susans awarded to the victor of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness respectively.
"It's our home base and I think that's always an advantage", Pletcher said. "I guess it's up to Rajiv, though, really". Yes, it's very vindicating - for the horse and for me and the owners and everyone. He can do whatever I want him to do, I think, so it just depends on what's happening in the race. The Wood Memorial victor should place somewhere on today's board, but I'll roll the dice on a long-shot to win and simply have Irish War Cry in my tri-fecta.
Tapwrit placed sixth at the Kentucky Derby and skipped the Preakness to get ready for the Belmont. It was the 143rd running of the Derby. He rallied to finish fourth.
Tapwrit ran well in the Derby and a repeat actually puts him in the mix - big-time.
Separate, non-comingled wagering on the Belmont Stakes opened in Japan at 6:30 a.m. ET and will remain open for the race. Four of his prior eight starters finished third, his best finish to date.
With a possible Triple Crown glittering on the horizon, Always Dreaming lost the Preakness, which, as disappointing as it was for Pletcher, provided a measure of relief, since it eliminated a scenario in which two horses he liked for the Belmont, Tapwrit and the one-eyed Patch, would be shoved into a position to thwart their own stablemate's Triple Crown bid.
Secretariat is one of the few horses who went into the Belmont looking strong, and then got stronger with every stride, to the point where the other horses weren't in the TV picture.
"There are a lot of horses here worth looking at", he said. A star could be born. J Boys Echo, Meantime and Multiplier are 15/1, respectively, while Twisted Tom is 20/1.
The Belmont is by far the longest race of the series, with a mile and a half separating the horses from the finish line.
"[Lookin at Lee's] had a good couple of weeks", Motion said. "I am not going to knock any of the competitors". "It's a similar routine that worked for us with Sarava".
"It's still a big event, but, you know, it's not the event", said trainer Bob Baffert of this year's Belmont after his horse Mor Spirit won the Metropolitan Handicap earlier in the day. "It's not easy, but he's a good horse and he's improving".
"The distance, I was sure he could handle", Ortiz said. We're going to fire away. "Right now they're very comfortable that the horse is comfortable and much better than he was two days ago".