Though Irish War Cry led from the gate, Tapwrit’s inside stalking strategy paid off in the end, as the Todd Pletcher owned horse stormed out of the final turn to run down Irish War Cry and Meantime to win the 2017 Belmont Stakes.
Pletcher also owns Patch, the one-eyed horse that finished a disappointing 16th place at the Kentucky Derby. Not a bad day for Pletcher.
Irish War Cry and Meantime started from outside gates, but both went straight for the rail at the gun and by the time the field hit the first turn, they were running 1-2 with Tapwrit, Gormley and Patch tucked in behind.
As the field dipped into the first turn of the 1 1/2 mile course, though, Hollywood Handsome — who was running in the back of the pack on the rail — appeared to overrun the horse in front of him, causing him to stumble briefly and rear back. That threw jockey Florent Geroux out of his crouch, which in turn led to him slipping his irons. That essentially ended Hollywood Handsome’s day, but not before the horse found himself in fourth place way outside at the end of the backstretch, running fully under his own direction.
Nevertheless, Hollywood Handsome ran out of that head of steam on the far turn and failed to finish. The on-call veterinarian told the NBC broadcast that he had suffered a small laceration on the back of his knee but that he’d be fine. That’s good news, as all too often such incidents can prove career-ending or fatal.
As the field rounded out of the last turn for the home stretch, Meantime faded quickly, which allowed Irish War Cry to break free, but Tapwrit found another gear, gave chase, and ran him down to take the Belmont by two lengths. Though Always Dreaming and Cloud Competing — the previous winners of the Derby and Preakness, respectively — didn’t race, the absence of any clear favorite did make for an interesting outing in any case.