Homeracing

Todd Pletcher Strikes Again in Test of Champions

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D.S. Williamson

June 14th, 2017

Todd Pletcher did it again. One of the world's greatest horse trainers managed to win the Belmont Stakes with an equine that ran terribly in the Kentucky Derby 5 weeks before. Tapwrit ran right past Irish War Cry to take home the Test of Champions.

Skipping the Preakness and running in the Belmont is a move that Pletcher has mastered over the years. Pletcher has now won the Test of Champions via the move twice. He's been desperately close, like in 2016 when Destin lost by a nose, many other times.

Not only did Tapwrit win, but Todd's other horse, Patch, finished third in the Belmont Stakes. I share analysis on both Tapwrit's and Patch's performances in the Belmont before discussing a bit about where I think Todd should send his three-year-olds this summer.

Tapwrit

The race truly set up for this son of Tapit. Jockey Jose Ortiz saved all the ground before pushing Tapwrit forward and past Irish War Cry in the stretch. Ortiz couldn't have asked for a better set-up. Irish War Cry didn't run blazingly fast on the lead while Tapwrit was in a great position throughout.

That makes it 2 years in a row where a son of Tapit has won the Belmont Stakes. Creator caught Destin on the wire in the 2016 Test of Champions. I'm not sure what to make of Tapwrit's performance. Yes, he was the only horse that caught Irish War Cry. But, the very best three-year-olds, stablemate Always Dreaming, Classic Empire, the retired Mastery, didn't run in the Belmont.

Not only that, but the Belmont is sort of a goofy race. Most of the time horses that win the Belmont don't come back guns blazing. For every Palace Malice, there's two or three Commendables.

Patch

I'm slightly more impressed with Patch's performance than I am with Tapwrit's. Tapwrit went off the 5 to 1 second choice. Patch went off at 12 to 1. Not only did Patch finish third in the Belmont Stakes at 12 to 1. He did it while running in only his fourth lifetime race. Patch has tremendous upside. I think he's the horse to look out for in the Travers Stakes.

Todd Pletcher's Three-Year-Olds Moving Forward

There are plenty of opportunities for Pletcher's three-year-olds to pick up huge paychecks this summer. Patch must be considered for the Travers Stakes at Saratoga.  He's fired in every race he's run. He's only run in 5 races. Always Dreaming, who won the Kentucky Derby, might also run best in the Travers. Battalion Runner, who skipped the Triple Crown, is perfectly suited for the Haskell Invitational.

As far as Tapwrit is concerned, I'm not sure what Todd should do. I think he gives Tapwrit plenty of time off. Maybe, he keeps Tapwrit on the bench until September. He could run Tapwrit in a single race, a single prep, before the Breeders' Cup Classic. Tapwrit bounced terribly in 2 straight races after the Tampa Bay Derby. I think he needs plenty of spaces between races to show his best.
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