Creator Closes From the Clouds to Win Belmont by a Nose
The play of the day was on the gray colt in the 148th Belmont Stakes Saturday, as Creator ‘closed from the clouds’ to win a photo finish over Destin. Actually, three gray horses finished 1-2-3 with Lani also closing hard for third. But it was trainer Steve Asmussen’s colt Creator, the son of Tapit, who split rivals in midlane to make steady progress on the leader Destin and nip him by a nose in the final jump at the finish. It was the fourth time the Belmont was decided by a nose — the closest possible margin of victory.
“Today was perfect for us by inches,” said trainer 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.”
Destin’s trainer Todd Pletcher called it a “tough beat” after Destin was the lone horse among the leaders to hold up down the stretch in the grueling 1.5 mile Belmont. He shook free and emerged with the lead at the eighth pole and dug in with determination before getting nipped at the finish line.
On a hot and sticky day at Belmont Park with the track rated fast, Creator, ridden by new jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., was sent off at 16-1 in the Belmont after finishing 13th in the Kentucky Derby and skipping the Preakness. With Ortiz urging him on Creator made his move into contention as they turned for home and then squeezed and split through horses before chasing down Destin in the final strides.
Creator returned $34.80, $14.60 and $9.40. Destin returned $9.40 and $6.20 and Lani paid $6.60. The $2 exact paid $269 and the $2 trifeca hit for $2,751.
The two race day favorites, Exaggerator at 7-5 and Suddenbreakingnews at 5-1 did not factor finishing 11th and 9th respectively.
“By the time we got to the eight pole, he was stepping on his tongue,” said Exaggerator’s jockey Kent Desormeaux, who said neither the track surface nor the traffic could be blamed. “I couldn’t have dreamt of a smoother ride.”
On one of racing’s biggest race days in the biggest race, Creator closed from the clouds and won the Belmont Stakes just before a heavy rainstorm broke over the track, bringing the Triple Crown season to a soggy close.