The road to the winner's circle in the Belmont Stakes ran through the Kentucky Derby, even if the Derby and Preakness winners skipped the final leg of the Triple Crown. 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. He won in 2007 with filly Rags to Riches and in 2013 with Palace Malice. The first four finishers all followed a well-worn path: run in the Derby, skip the Preakness and come back fresh for the Belmont. Five of the last nine Belmont winners did just that. Tapwrit finished sixth in the 20-horse Derby after encountering traffic in what Pletcher described as "a sneaky good" race. "We felt like with the five weeks in between, and with the way this horse had trained, that he had a legitimate chance," said Pletcher, per the AP. "I think that's always an advantage."
Irish War Cry was 10th after pressing the early pace in the May 6 race. Patch took third in the Belmont after being 14th in the Derby. Gormley, ninth in the Derby, finished fourth Saturday. Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Tapwrit ran 1 1/2 miles in 2:30.02 on his home track. Ortiz's brother Irad Jr. won the race last year with Creator. "The distance, I was sure he could handle it," Ortiz said. Tapwrit paid $12.60, $6.50 and $5 at 5-1 odds. Pletcher took two of the year's three Triple Crown races, having saddled Always Dreaming to victory in the Derby. "The last five weeks have been the ultimate roller coaster," he said. "We felt really good coming in that both horses were doing very well. We felt like both horses suited the mile and a half distance. Fortunately, it all fell into place." Tapwrit, a 3-year-old gray colt, was purchased for $1.2 million, making him the most expensive horse in the field.