New York( AP) — The finish was dramatic, even without a Triple Crown on the line.
Creator find an opening in the stretching and ran down Destin in the final stride to win the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes by a nose the closest possible margin of victory. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr ., pointed to the sky in an appropriate winning salute given the horse’s name.
“Today was perfect for us by inches, ” said Steve Asmussen, who will be inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame this summer at Saratoga. “Being the victor of the Belmont Stakes will look good on that plaque.”
The 50 -year-old trainer has won more than 7,300 races, including the Preakness with champs Curlin in 2007 and Rachel Alexandra in 2009. He was taken away from the Hall of Fame ballot last year, though, because of allegations made by PETA about the way he treated his horses. He was subsequently cleared by racing authorities in Kentucky and New York.
The 1 1/2 -mile “Test of the Champion” wraps up the Triple Crown a year after American Pharoah’s run to glory in becoming the first pony in 37 years to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. A different pony won each leg Nyquist took the Derby and Exaggerator won the Preakness.
This was Creator’s day, a hot, sticky one at Belmont Park with temperatures in the mid-8 0s. Exaggerator, the 7-5 favorite in the field of 13, raced well back in the pack, moved into assertion but only didn’t have his usual complete kick. He finished 11 th.
A 3-year-old gray colt, Creator came flying down the stretch as Destin tried to hang on to the leading. He nearly built it, but settled for second with Japan-based Lani a closing third.
“I’m glad to see him put that number up; they came to the wire together, ” Asmussen said of the Creator-Destin showdown. “Irad gave him a dreaming trip-up. The pony ran super.”
Creator, sent off 16 -1, returned $34.80, $14.60 and $9.40. Destin, trained by Todd Pletcher, returned $9.40 and $6.20 and Lani paid $6.60. The winning time for the 1 1/2 miles was 2:28.51. The first three finishers were gray colts.
Governor Malibu was fourth, followed by Stradivari, Brody’s Cause, Cherry Wine, Gettysburg, Suddenbreakingnews, Trojan Nation, Exaggerator, Trying the Soul and Forever d’Oro.
Creator was one of several closers in the field, and the race set up perfectly for him. Gettysburg was a late addition to the field. Both horses are owned by WinStar Farm and trained by Asmussen, with Gettysburg a front-runner who could defined the stage for a thrilling finish.
That’s exactly what happened. After defining a slowish pace, Gettysburg fell back after a mile, and Destin took charge well into the stretch. With Ortiz exhorting him on, Creator stormed into contention after running near the back of the pack for his third win in 10 career starts. Ortiz, one of the nation’s leading riders, won his first Triple Crown race.
“He was calm and I just waited for somewhere to go, ” Ortiz said. “When he got clear, he started running.”
Kent Desormeaux, the Hall of Fame rider aboard the colt, second-guessed his decision to ask Exaggerator to wait behind the pace. When he tried to make a move, the pony trained by his brother, Keith, merely didn’t have it.
“I don’t know if there would have been any difference in the outcome, ” Kent Desormeaux said. “When I picked him up at the quarter-pole “ve been trying to” win the race, there was nothing there.”
Exaggerator and Lani were the only horses who ran in all three Triple Crown races. Lani improved each time, operating ninth in the Derby and fifth in the Preakness.
“He was in very good condition, and the distance was good, ” Lani’s jockey Yutaka Take said.
The track was a fast one all day, and the rainfall held off until after the finish when a cloudburst soaked a mob much smaller than the 90,000 that proved up for American Pharoah’s Triple Crown.
Earlier in the week, celebrity cook Bobby Flay became a co-owner of Creator along with WinStar.
Attendance figures were not yet released by the New York Association.
In another five Grade 1 races on the card 😛 TAGEND
Frosted ($ 6.70) operated the most wonderful Metropolitan Mile in the 123 -year history of the race, blowing away the field for a 14 1/4 duration victory and earning an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Ridden by Joel Rosario, the 4-year-old gray colt stormed into the result around the turn and widened his advantage with every step. The winning time was 1:32.73, off the track record by almost a half-second, but faster than Tizway’s Met Mile time of 1:32.90 in 2011.
Cavorting ($ 10.60) operated her route into an automatic berth in the BC Distaff by taking the$ 1 million Ogden Phipps by 2 1/2 durations over Forever Unbridled. The 4-year-old filly is brought about by Kiran McLaughlin, who also trains Frosted. Favorite Curalina was fourth.
Flintshire ($ 3.40 ), a 6-year-old bred in England, made his first start of the year a winning one in the$ 1 million Manhattan for 4-year-olds and up on the turf.
Celestine ($ 17) took charge in the stretch to win the $700,000 Just A Game for 4-year-old and up fillies and mares on the turf.
Carina Mia ($ 6.10) edged past Kentucky Oaks winner Cathryn Sophia in the stretch and won the $700,000 Acorn for 3 -year-old fillies.
Also, Tom’s Ready ($ 17.20) rebounded from a 12 th place finish in the Derby to win the Grade 2 $500,000 Woody Stephens; and Shaman Ghost ($ 9.60) won the $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational.
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