One year after Irad Ortiz, Jr. had ridden Creator to the win in the final leg of the American triple crown, Jose enjoyed his turn in the spotlight in Elmont, New York.
Lookin At Lee, the only horse to run in all the Triple Crown races this year, finished seventh on Saturday, after running second in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness Stakes. "Great training job by Todd", Ortiz told race broadcaster NBC.
Yes, he was thrilled at the prospect of aiming for a Triple Crown with convincing Derby victor Always Dreaming. Many were questioning which Irish War Cry showed up for the Belmont. 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.
Pletcher is also the trainer for Patch, who finished third Saturday.
Irish War Cry and Meantime were in front for the first half of the race before Tapwrit made a move past Meantime. Tapwrit's Belmont was Pletcher's third, after Palace Malice won it in 2013 and the filly Rags to Riches outdueled Curlin in 2007 in what remains one of the most goosebump-inducing sporting events I've witnessed live.
Monmouth Park's $1 million, Grade 1 Betfair Haskell Invitational at a mile and a furlong on July 31 looms as a high dollar possible for both Tapwrit and Irish War Cry. Classic Empire, the expected favourite, dropped out on Wednesday with a foot abscess.
Gormley moved in front of Tapwrit to take third as Irish War Cry was able to get away from his rivals by almost two lengths in the far turn.
"It was everything we talked about in the paddock before the race", Pletcher said. Hagiwara added, "The horse was close to being able to compete, but we ran out of time".
At 1¼ miles, the distance of the Kentucky Derby, Irish War Cry looked like a victor, and then fatigue hit him as if he ran face first into the Great Wall of China.
"Tapwrit was getting a handsome trip", Pletcher said, according to the AP.
"It's an unbelievable feeling that I can't explain", Jose Ortiz said.