In what was one of the oddest Triple Crown seasons in recent memory, Sir Winston took full advantage of a rail that seemed to be the place to be and rallied to pull off the upset in the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) on Saturday.
Jockey Joel Rosario saved ground early while the colt was eighth in the 10-horse field, bided his time, had to wait for some running room nearing the quarterpole, angled out four-wide, got to the front with a furlong to go and held off the rallying Tacitus to win by a length, returning his backers $22.40.
Jockey Jose Ortiz aboard the betting favorite Tacitus seemed unaware of how good the inner paths were, guiding his mount three wide around the first turn, raced wide down the backstretch, then was five wide entering the stretch.
Ortiz then guided the colt closer to the inside, but again worked his way into about the five-path nearing the eighth pole and his rally came up short as Sir Winston got the much better trip and ride.
The three classics are in the books, with three different winners (some say four) and there is no clear-cut leader in the division, which likely will not be decided until the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on Nov. 2.
Two of the three races were won by the less regarded contender from the winning barn. The Bill Mott trained Country House was placed first in the Kentucky Derby (G1) thanks to the disqualification of Maximum Security, sent off at 65-1, while his stablemate Tacitus was placed third at just under 6-1.
2019 Belmont Stakes Replay
In the Belmont Stakes the Mark Casse trained Sir Winston was sent off at 10-1 while his stablemate War of Will, the Preakness Stakes (G1) winner was the second choice in the race at 7-2 but failed to fire and weakened to finish ninth.
So, who among the Triple Crown race winners will win the Eclipse Award? Well, It actually is just as likely it could be a runner that did not win one of the three classics.
Maximum Security has crossed the wire first in all five of his career starts but was disqualified from the Run for the Roses for veering in on War of Will. His trainer Jason Servis elected to skip the Preakness and Belmont and his next target is the Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park on July 20. The colt may prep for the Haskell in the Pegasus at Monmouth Park on June 16.
Game Winner was last year’s champion juvenile, winning all four of his starts capped off by his victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). He is 0 for 3 this year, runner up finishes in the Rebel and Santa Anita Derby (G1) and a fifth in the Kentucky Derby. A couple of wins in the Haskell, Travers, Pennsylvania Derby or Breeders’ Cup Classic and this guy could still take the crown.
Omaha Beach Could Be Heard From
Remember Omaha Beach? Yeah, I forgot about him too. He was going to be the favorite for the Kentucky Derby, but an entrapped epiglottis led to a scratch and minor surgery. The Richard Mandella trainee won one of the divisions of the Rebel (G2) and then won the Arkansas Derby (G1).
Tacitus has come up short in his two Triple Crown races but ran well in both. He rallied for fourth and placed third in the Derby and a good argument could be made that with a better trip he would have won the Belmont. He has matured and will be heard from this summer and fall.
Code of Honor was the runner up in the Derby and has the talent to be a major player the rest of the year. He won the Fountain of Youth (G2) and was third in the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park.
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Don’t forget about Baffert’s Roadster, who was a disappointing 15th in the Kentucky Derby, but he is a Grade 1 winner, taking the Santa Anita Derby in April.
Toss in Country House, War of Will and now Sir Winston, and there is going to be a mad scramble the remainder of the year for the hardware.
After witnessing two Triple Crowns in four years, this season ended with a bit of a thud. The class of 2019 may not be one of the strongest, but most of the major players are still in training and that could lead to some great showdowns coming up in the Haskell, Travers and Pennsylvania Derby, and then the group will have to face their elders in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.