November 25, 2017

Belmont Stakes 149 Trainer & Jockey Quotes

Tapwrit with Jose Ortiz up wins the 2017 Belmont Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park (c) Uli Seit/Horsephotos.com

Todd Pletcher, trainer Tapwrit (winner) and Patch (third)

“Tapwrit was getting a beautiful trip. It was everything we talked about in the paddock before the race. We were hoping he had enough when it came to crunch time. It looked like Irish War Cry still had a little something left, but the last sixteenth, he dug down deep.”

On winning his third career Belmont Stakes.

“It’s our home base and I think that’s always an advantage. We felt like with the five weeks in between, and with the way this horse had trained, that he had a legitimate chance.”

Jose Ortiz, jockey Tapwrit, winner

“It’s an unbelievable feeling that I can’t explain. I’m very happy right now. I’m happy for the owners and for Todd (Pletcher) for giving me the opportunity.

“The distance, I was sure he could handle it. It was a great training job by Todd. I always liked him and we always had a lot of faith in him. Today he showed up. I’m very happy.”

Graham Motion, trainer Irish War Cry, second

“It actually wasn’t our plan to be on the lead. We kind of hoped that somebody else would go for it, but he had to go to Plan B and (jockey) Rajiv (Maragh) did a great job. At the eighth-pole, I thought we might be home free, but it’s the Belmont. It’s a tough race.

“I’m very proud of how he ran. I thought he ran a very game race. Yes, it’s very vindicating – for the horse and for me and the owners and everyone. I thought he ran very game, honestly.

“We were hoping we might get a little bit of a stalking trip but we had to go to Plan B and Rajiv did a great job. He went three-quarters in (1:14). Turning for home, I thought we might have it but it’s a long way home.”

Rajiv Maragh, jockey Irish War Cry, second

“He ran a real good race. He tried hard to the end. When I straightened up I had horse left and I knew it was going to take a really big run from another hose to catch me. I was pretty confident turning for home. I saw the other horse coming and obviously a race of this magnitude I’m going to ride hard to the wire, and even when I was ahead you know they’re going to be coming at you, but my horse never really gave up. He ran hard to the end he just got a little bit overpowered late in the race, but I’m proud of his effort.

“I was more disappointed in the Kentucky Derby, but I felt like I had a good shot at winning turning for home. I didn’t want to get any emotions come and cloud my judgement so I kind of just rode my race. It was a little bittersweet. When you get that close to winning the Belmont Stakes, and finishing second, but the horse came back and showed his true colors, and I’m glad he showed up and ran this race today. He ran hard.”

John Velazquez, jockey Patch, third

“He ran a very good race. (It was a) good trip. The whole race, that’s where we broke and where we were, I thought he ran a god race. He finished up really well. He can run with a good kick.”

John Shirreffs, trainer Gormley, fourth

“I thought he ran really well. I’m pleased with the effort he made. He bobbled a little out of the gate but he recovered nicely. I thought he ran a very creditable race. Victor (Espinoza) said he started looking around a little bit, so we probably can improve on that. This is the first time he’s gone the mile-and-a-half and they are young three-year-olds. I didn’t think the distance was a problem for him. When the horse came back he wasn’t breathing all that hard. We’ll take him back to California, and we may come back east with him. It depends upon how things are going. If they’re going well, there’s a possibility of Saratoga.”

Victor Espinoza, jockey Gormley, fourth

“I think he ran a great race. He missed the break. He stumbled a little bit because he was moving around and the other two horses (next to him) squeezed me just a little, but he’s quick, so I thought I could get out of that mess and sit just off the speed. I had an excellent trip, but down the lane he was still just a little immature. He really didn’t help me to go forward. I have to believe that blinkers would help him. As he gets older, I believe that he’s going to improve.”

Florent Geroux, jockey Hollywood Handsome, DNF

“I got squeezed pretty hard coming into the first turn. My horse clipped heels. I almost went down and I lost my stirrup. He was bleeding underneath his leg, it looked like.”

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