The Belmont Stakes: What you need to know

Tapwrit overtook favored Irish War Cry in the stretch to win by two lengths on Saturday, giving trainer Todd Pletcher his third career victory in the Belmont.

Neither Always Dreaming nor the 2017 Preakness victor Cloud Computing were in the field for Saturday's Belmont Stakes, the mile-and-a-half race proven to be the toughest Triple Crown event, and one of the most grueling in the sport.

Tapwrit, with jockey Jose Ortiz up, crosses the finish line to win the 149th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race, Saturday, June 10, 2017, in Elmont, N.Y.

After the race, the mega-trainer said, "It's our home base and I think that's always an advantage". Ridden by jockey Jose Ortiz, Tapwrit completed the 1½-mile route over a fast track to edge out favorite Irish War Cry by two lengths. Irish War Cry, who pressed the early pace at Churchill Downs on May 6 and ran 10th in the Derby, nearly went wire-to-wire in the Belmont with jockey Rajiv Maragh in the irons.

Irish War Cry returned $4.70 to place and $3.90 to show.

"We always had a lot of faith in him", Ortiz said. Classic Empire, expected to be the favorite, had to be scratched earlier in the week due to a recurrence of an abscess in his right front hoof.

Pletcher also owns Patch, the one-eyed horse that finished a disappointing 16th place at the Kentucky Derby. 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. While there's no triple crown at stake, it's still one last chance to watch one of horse racing's classic events. The problem is that there's no value in taking him as his odds continue to drop the closer we get to Saturday's 6:37PM ET post time. "You very seldomly just get to enjoy a win and not have a target right around the corner".

So Irish War Cry, who struggled his way to 10th at the Kentucky Derby and took the Preakness off, entered the race as the favorite in a hollowed-out field.

"It's all good", Pletcher said. But what would he do with Tapwrit, purchased as a $1.2 million yearling with the belief that he could develop into a ideal Belmont Stakes horse, if Always Dreaming was aiming for an historic sweep?

Tapwrit (seen here preparing for the Kentucky Derby) covered the mile-and-a-half Belmont Stakes course in 2:30:02. Gormley finished fourth and completed the $2 superfecta of $4,486.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association Top Three-Year-Old Poll lists Lookin At Lee as the best horse in the remaining field of 11, and his 5-to-1 odds, now second best, seem to reaffirm his favorite status.

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