Tapwrit's final finish makes up for Triple Crown letdown at Belmont

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. But what would he do with Tapwrit, purchased as a $1.2 million yearling with the belief that he could develop into a ideal Belmont Stakes horse, if Always Dreaming was aiming for an historic sweep?

Tapwrit and Patch are trained by Todd Pletcher, who sought his third career Belmont.

For the winning rider, Jose Ortiz, this was his first Belmont Stakes victory in three tries. "It's a feeling I can't explain right now".

It was the second time that Irish War Cry had faded from a prominent position, having been second in the stretch in the Kentucky Derby before fading in to 10th at Churchill Downs. The Wood Memorial victor should place somewhere on today's board, but I'll roll the dice on a long-shot to win and simply have Irish War Cry in my tri-fecta. Irish War Cry paid $4.70 to place and $3.90 for third. Good luck to those who are wagering, and most of all enjoy the race.

Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Tapwrit ran 1 1/2 miles in 2:30.02 on his home track.

So this grand Long Island racetrack, the site of Triple Crown coronations for immortal horses like Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed and, most recently, American Pharoah, was more or less an audition stage for a bunch of unproven 3-year-olds, any one of whom might evolve into a future powerhouse. Ortiz had Tapwrit up close in the second flight, inside of Gormley and right behind Irish War Cry and Meantime.

"It actually wasn't our plan to be on the lead", said Graham Motion, trainer of the beaten favorite. We kind of hoped that somebody else would go for it, but he had to go to Plan B and [jockey] Rajiv [Maragh] did a great job.

"At the eighth pole, I thought was might be home free", Motion said, "but it's the Belmont". Pletcher won it in 2007 with Rags to Riches, Patch's sire, and with Palace Malice in 2013.

Pletcher, who is set to run American Patriot in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot later this month, said afterwards, "Tapwrit was getting a lovely trip. He got a attractive trip". "We still have time, so we will give him the best care we can".

Irish War Cry, 10th in the Kentucky Derby in his latest start, would not have been the Belmont favorite if Classic Empire hadn't scratched earlier this week because of a foot injury.

I'm feeling that quite a bit coming off my prediction that Always Dreaming would win the Preakness, Classic Empire would finish a exhausted third, and that Cloud Computing had talent, but needed more seasoning. Pletcher has yet to win the Preakness.

The jockey's older brother, Irad Jr., was in the race as well, on the back of Lookin At Lee. He has steadily been gaining more notoriety, riding mostly on the NYRA circuit.