The Triple Crown season produced three different winners in each of the races, and little has been determined when it comes to figuring out which three-year-old is the top horse of the year.
However, when it comes to trainers, Todd Pletcher made a claim on being the year's best when Tapwrit finished first Saturday in the Belmont Stakes.
That win gave Pletcher two of the three jewels of the Triple Crown, as Pletcher trainee Always Dreaming won the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.
Tapwrit did not run in the Preakness in mid-May, and Pletcher's decision to rest him in that race may have had much to do with his ability to find the winner's circle in the Belmont Stakes. Tapwrit was rested and strong, and those factors helped him quite a bit in the 1 ½-mile New York 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 Beth Harris of the Associated Press (h/t Boston Globe). "I think that's always an advantage."
Favorite Irish War Cry broke well from the gate and took the early lead in the race, and he held that advantage all the way until deep stretch. That's when Tapwrit ran him down and passed him as he went on to score a two-length victory.
Tapwrit had a fine start himself and was able to stalk the leader fairly close to the front. He was in one of the top four spots at every point of call, and the long Belmont Park stretch run gave him enough opportunity to get to Irish War Cry and win the race.
Tapwrit's winning time was 2:30.02, and he paid $12.60, $6.50 and $5.00 to his backers for his victory. Irish War Cry finished second, and he paid $4.70 and $3.90, while Patch finished third and paid $6.50 for those who backed him with a show bet.
The 2-7 exacta paid $45.20, while the 2-7-12 trifecta paid $624.00 to those who were sharp enough to combine Tapwrit, Irish War Cry and Patch.
The pace of the race was dictated by Irish War Cry, and jockey Rajiv Maragh had his horse in excellent position throughout. While he was passed by Tapwrit, he did not collapse after losing the lead and finished in a competitive manner.
The leader reached the quarter-mile mark in 23.88, the half-mile mark at 48.66, the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:14.01 and the mile in 2:04.10. Here's a look at the Belmont Stakes chart, courtesy of Equibase.
While Irish War Cry did not win the race, trainer Graham Motion was quite pleased with the way his horse ran.
"I'm very proud of how he ran," said Motion, per Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form. "We hadn't intended to be on the lead. Rajiv kind of went to Plan B. He did a great job. He slowed it down. About the eighth pole, I felt pretty good. But it's a long way, the Belmont. He ran a very game race. He certainly showed that he's legit."
Tapwrit's victory earned $800,000 for his connections, while Irish War Cry's payday for his second-place finish was $280,000. Patch earned $150,000 for his third-place finish in the race that offered a purse of $1.5 million to its participants.
Always Dreaming, Cloud Computing and Tapwrit are all contenders for three-year-old honors this year, but nothing has been finalized during the Triple Crown season. The summer and fall racing season will feature events like the Haskell, Travers and Breeders' Cup, and they are likely to determine which horse is this year's class leader.