Tapwrit, ridden by Jose Ortiz, on Saturday won the Belmont Stakes, the third contest in horse racing's Triple Crown. Irish War Cry couldn't respond, and Tapwrit beat him by a widening 2 lengths before 57,729 fans Saturday at sunny Belmont Park.
In the absence of Always Dreaming and Cloud Computing, Preakness second Classic Empire will line up as favorite Saturday but the Derby fourth will have his work cut out to defy history and triumph after such a heavy schedule.
The one-eyed Patch, also trained by Pletcher, finished a distant third in the 11-horse field. Hagiwara added, "The horse was close to being able to compete, but we ran out of time". We felt like both horses suited the mile and a half distance. "It looks like it's getting better and I think there is no problem running him in the race".
Epicharis is eligible for a $1 million bonus from the New York Racing Association if he wins the Belmont.
"Tapwrit was getting a attractive trip", Pletcher said. We were hoping he had enough left when it came to crunch time.
That day he bumped into the highly promising Thunder Snow, and was beaten a head by that horse, who has since ran well behind British Guineas double victor Churchill.
Last year, Japanese-trained Lani ran in all three Triple Crown races.
The race is open to 3-year-old thoroughbreds.
"It actually wasn't our plan to be on the lead", said Graham Motion, who trains Irish War Cry.
The colt was the 4-1 second choice for the $1.5 million race.
That's when Tapwrit took up the chase in earnest. He guided the colt to the outside until he could be stopped. The longest shot in the field is 30-1 Hollywood Handsome, who along with 15-1 Meantime, didn't run in either of the first two legs.