Tapwrit picked up the victory Saturday evening in the 2017 Belmont Stakes to complete this year's Triple Crown season at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York.
Irish War Cry, the morning-line favorite, and one-eyed colt Patch rounded out the top three finishers in the 149th edition of the Run for the Carnations, which is the longest race of the marquee trio for three-year old horses, at 12 furlongs.
Tapwrit joins Kentucky Derby champion Always Dreaming and Preakness Stakes champion Cloud Computing as the winners on the 2017 Triple Crown trail.
Irish War Cry led a vast majority of the race, but the fast pace during the early stages likely played a key role in the favorite's not having enough finishing kick to hold on for the win.
Instead, Tapwrit made a major surge down the homestretch and made the late pass to capture the final jewel of the Triple Crown. It's a return to form for the Todd Pletcher trainee, who won the Tampa Bay Derby before a pair of lackluster outings in the Blue Grass Stakes and the Kentucky Derby.
Patch also made a move over the final furlongs, but he simply didn't have enough time to chase down the leaders. He did edge out Gormley for third place, though.
Most of the attention coming into Saturday's race focused on the horses who didn't compete.
Always Dreaming finished a disappointing eighth in the Preakness three weeks ago to bring a swift end to the chances of seeing a Triple Crown winner this year. It also ended a four-race winning streak for the Kentucky Derby winner, who also triumphed in the Florida Derby in April.
Alicia Wincze Hughes of BloodHorse passed along remarks from West Point Thoroughbreds president Terry Finley about the decision to skip the Belmont.
"Todd [Pletcher] ended up conferring with the majority partners (Vinnie Viola and Anthony Bonomo), and I think they just want to take a deep breath with him," he said. "There are some really exciting spots for him later in the year. Certainly the big one is the Travers. So that was the thinking—we take a pause here and regroup."
Cloud Computing, the surprise winner of the Preakness, was also kept away from the Belmont with the future in mind. The colt chased down champion Classic Empire during the homestretch at Pimlico Race Course last month.
Trainer Chad Brown explained the Belmont's added distance played a key role in the choice to avoid going for two straight Triple Crown victories, per the Paulick Report.
"As we try to plan his second half of the year, we just don't feel like running in a mile-and-a-half race just three weeks after his strong performance in the Preakness is the right thing to do for him if we want to have a horse for the rest of the year," Brown said.
The absence of the two champions, as well as the missing intrigue that comes with getting to see them face off at Belmont Park, left Classic Empire as the expected favorite for the finale.
He defected from the field early Wednesday, just hours before the draw of post positions, due to a recurrence of a hoof abscess. CBS New York noted trainer Mark Casse said there was no reason to push the horse, who finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby, to compete right now.
"He's such a tough horse; he doesn't really let you know until it's really painful to him," he said. "If he hadn't, he would have run in the race and probably not run as well, and then have it flare up. I'm looking toward it as a bright spot, that he showed it three days out and not the day after."
Finally, the morning of the Belmont, Japanese contender Epicharis was scratched after failing to pass a veterinary exam, according to Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form.
Although not having those horses on the track Saturday hurt the Belmont's storyline potential, it doesn't take away from Tapwrit's win. It was still a rock-solid field, and beating Grade I competition in a 12-furlong race is a major achievement.