Tapwrit overtook 5-2 favorite Irish War Cry in the stretch to win the Belmont Stakes by 2 lengths, giving trainer Todd Pletcher his third career victory in the event that is the final leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.

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ELMONT, N.Y. – The road to success in the Belmont Stakes ran through the Kentucky Derby, even if this year’s Derby and Preakness winners skipped the final leg of the Triple Crown.

Tapwrit overtook 5-2 favorite Irish War Cry in the stretch to win by 2 lengths Saturday, giving trainer Todd Pletcher his third career victory in the Belmont. He won in 2007 with filly Rags to Riches and in 2013 with Palace Malice.

The first four finishers in the 1½-mile event followed a well-worn path: run in the Derby, skip the Preakness and come back from a five-week break for the Belmont.

Tapwrit finished sixth in the 20-horse Derby after encountering traffic in what Pletcher described as “a sneaky-good” 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, who is based in New York. “I think that’s always an advantage.”

Irish War Cry (10th in the Derby) was second in the field of 11 after leading for most of the Belmont.

Patch (14th in the Derby), a one-eyed horse trained by Pletcher, was third and Gormley (ninth in the Derby) was fourth in the $1.5 million Belmont.

Jose Ortiz rode Tapwrit, who won in 2 minutes, 30.02 seconds before a crowd of 57,729. The colt paid $12.60 to win as the second wagering choice in the Grade I race for 3-year-olds.

Pletcher took two of this year’s three Triple Crown races, having saddled Always Dreaming to victory in the May 6 Derby.

“The Derby win was awesome,” he said. “The last five weeks have been the ultimate roller coaster. We felt really good coming in that both horses (Tapwrit and Patch) were doing very well.

“We felt like both horses suited the mile-and-a-half distance. They had the right running styles and the right dispositions and the right pedigrees.”

Notes

• Japan-based Epicharis, the early 4-1 second choice who was being treated for a hoof problem, was scratched from the Belmont on Saturday morning after failing a prerace veterinary exam.

• On the undercard, Mike Smith won five of the seven stakes races he rode, teaming with trainer Bob Baffert for four of those victories.

The Hall of Famers combined to take Grade I races with Abel Tasman ($6.30 to win) in the $687,000 Acorn for 3-year-old fillies and 4-year-old ridgling Mor Spirit ($7.10) in the $1.2 million Met Mile.