It took Creator six races before he finally won his first career race. Four races after he made his first trip to the winner’s circle, he has entered racing history by winning the 148th edition of the Belmont Stakes in New York on Saturday.
Preakness winner Exaggerator ran close to the pace throughout but faded in the stretch and finished a distant eleventh, only beating two other horses. Destin took the lead as they entered the stretch and held it until the final stride to finish second, a nose behind the winner. Lani, the only other horse besides Exaggerator to run in all three Triple Crown races this year, finished third. Governor Malibu finished fourth.
Creator broke from the far outside post position. His jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. had him close to the rail to save ground by the time the field hit the first turn. He raced far off the pace set early on by Gettysburg, who was entered by Creator’s owner to ensure an honest pace. Creator slowly closed ground along the backstretch and moved to within five lengths of the lead with about a half mile to go. As they turned into the stretch, Creator appeared to be caught behind a wall of horses, with nowhere to run. Ortiz patently waited and found an opening with about an eighth of a mile to go. Creator shot towards Destin and passed him in the final jump across the finish line. It was a brilliant ride by the young Ortiz and his first win in a Triple Crown race.
It was the first Belmont Stakes win for trainer Steve Assmussen. He finished a close second in the 2007 Belmont with Curlin behind winner Rags to Riches. Rags to Riches was trained by Todd Pletcher who trained this year’s second place finisher Destin.
It was the second graded stakes win for Creator who also won the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby back in March. He earned his owners $800,000, the winner’s share of the 1.5 million dollar purse, for his Belmont Stakes win.
The first rains of the day came soon after the horses crossed the finish for the Belmont on an otherwise perfect day in New York. An announced crowd of 58,000 enjoyed a great day of racing that included a total of ten graded stakes races.