Tapwrit and Songbird Light Up Belmont's Big Day

Tapwrit drove past Irish War Cry in the stretch to give trainer Todd Pletcher his third Belmont Stakes win in 11 years and continue the domination of the classic by sons of champion sire Tapit.
Tapwrit became the third winner in the last four runnings of the Belmont Stake sired by Tapit, joining Tonalist (2014) and Creator (2016).
New York-based Pletcher had previously won the third and final leg of the US Triple Crown for three-year-olds with the Kentucky Oaks winner Rags To Riches and Palace Malice (2103).
“It’s our home base and I think that’s always an advantage,” commented Pletcher, who also won this year’s Kentucky Derby, first leg of the Triple Crown, with Always Dreaming.
Drawn gate two in a field reduced to 11 by the race day withdrawal of Japanese raider Epicharis, Tapwrit was ridden by Jose Ortiz whose brother Irad Ortiz rode the 2016 winner Creation.
Ortiz gave him the run of the race as Irish War Cry led from Meantime in a tightly bunched group while Santa Anita Derby hero Gormley settled in midfield.
Tapwrit enjoyed a ground-saving trip in fourth and overhauled Irish War Cry inside the last furlong with a gap back to another Pletcher runner Patch in third.
There was a sense of relief from Pletcher after Always Dreaming failed in the Preakiness Stakes, the Triple Crown second leg at Pimlico last month.
“The last five weeks has been the ultimate roller coaster for us,” he said.
Tapwrit was purchased as a yearling for $1.2 million by John Malone’s Bridlewood Farm, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Robert LaPenta from the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale, making him the third most-expensive offering at that auction.
He was well-beaten on debut at Saratoga last summer but won his maiden in November and the Pulpit Stakes in December before coming back in February to finish second in the G3 Sam F. Davis Stakes before he overwhelmed his rivals by 4.5 lengths in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby.
He was then fifth in the G1 Blue Grass Stakes and sixth in the GI Kentucky Derby.
The Belmont Stakes program also marked a triumphant return to racing by champion mare Songbird in the G1 Ogden Phipps Stakes.
The four-time Eclipse Award winner was ridden by Mike Smith to record her eighth career G1 win, leading from the start to win by a length over a game Paid Up Subscriber,
“She is so good out of the gate and God willing she’ll continue to do so,” Smith commented.
“She jumped really, really well and I stayed off the fence just because it’s her first race back. I hand rode her home. She got a little tired but she is supposed
“She is one of the most intelligent horses you’ll ever be You can ride her with your fingers.”
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer admitted that the Songbird was short of top condition.
“Let’s call this a great race off the layoff,” he said. “I’m not sure she’s at the top of her game right now, but she did very well.”
Songbird won her four juvenile starts by a combined 22 lengths including the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and ran her winning streak to 11 over her 3YO season before she was beaten by Beholder in a thrilling Breeders Cup Distaff.

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