Tapwrit wins 149th Belmont Stakes

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Tapwrit won the 149th running of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.

Race favorite Irish War Cry broke away early and led for the majority of the race, but Tapwrit, who came in with 5-1 odds, used a late push to slide into first and grab the win.

The victory gives trainer Todd Pletcher two-thirds of the 2017 Triple Crown with Always Dreaming’s Kentucky Derby victory. It also marks the third time Pletcher has won the final leg of the Triple Crown.

Following the win, Pletcher explained that the race played out exactly the way his team had hoped it would.

“Tapwrit was getting a beautiful trip,” Pletcher said. “It was everything that we had talked about in the paddock before the race. It was just hoping that he had enough when it came crunch time.”

Pletcher is also the trainer of Patch, the one-eyed horse who came away with a third-place finish.

Meanwhile, jockey Jose Ortiz celebrated his first Triple Crown victory, calling the win “unbelievable.”

Both Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and Preakness Stakes winner Cloud Computing pulled out of the Belmont Stakes, opening up the field and paving the way for three different Triple Crown race winners in 2017.

Trainer Jerry Bozzo, 97, gets win at Gulfstream Park

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (AP) Until Jerry Bozzo, no trainer had ever won a thoroughbred race at the age of 96.

And now, make it 97.

Bozzo bettered his own mark Saturday, when Gusty Wind prevailed in the fifth race at Gulfstream Park by nearly four lengths in a mild upset. Gusty Wind, with Luca Panici aboard, returned $14.80 for the win.

“It’s very gratifying. I wish I could have been there in the winner’s circle,” Bozzo, who watched the race on his computer at home, told Gulfstream Park officials afterward. “That would have pumped me up even more.”

Bozzo became the oldest trainer to win a race on June 3, 2017, when Cotton Tooyah won at Gulfstream for the then-96-year-old. Before that, the oldest trainer to win a race was Noble Threewitt, who was 95 when Threeatonce won a maiden race at Santa Anita in 2006.

Bozzo, born Oct. 25, 1920, is a retired aeronautical engineer, industrialist and World War II veteran. He graduated from Carnegie Tech, which is now called Carnegie Mellon, and MIT. He has been training and breeding thoroughbreds in South Florida for nearly 50 years, and talked to Panici on Friday night to discuss strategy for Saturday.

“Good for him,” Panici said. “He is a man with an amazing history.”

Saratoga, without Justify, ready to go for 150th meet

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Triple Crown winner Justify won’t be running during the 150th meet at Saratoga Race Course, but many of the best thoroughbreds will be at the historic track for the 40-day season.

The meet features 69 stakes races worth $18.8 million in purses and opens Friday. Among those running this season will be Good Magic, Hofburg, Gronkowski, Vino Rosso, and Bravazo.

Todd Pletcher is eyeing his 13th training title in 16 years. He won last year with 40 winners, one more than Chad Brown.

Justify has returned to Del Mar in California after swelling in his left front ankle emerged two weeks ago. Trainer Bob Baffert says Justify probably will walk around the stable area the next two weeks.

The colt likely will return in the fall, the ultimate goal being the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November.