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2007 Belmont – Sunday Morning Recap

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As I said on my Wednesday update, "Theres a lady in the house," and boy was there ever! Rags to Riches was the first filly in 102 years to win the Belmont and the third ever. This race also took the monkey off the back of trainer Todd Pletcher who finally won his first Triple Crown victory.

“As a rule, we’re probably the one everyone is rooting against,” said Pletcher, who set single-season records for stakes wins (100) and graded stakes wins (57) in 2006 and earnings ($26,820,243) with his powerhouse stable. “We’re the underdog today; that was kind of sweet. The reception was kind of unbelievable."

“After we made the decision to run this filly, the reaction from the racing community was very enthusiastic. If nothing else, it was great for racing. Obviously, the end result, it was great for the filly.”

Garret Gomez, the regular rider of Rags To Riches, decided to accept the mount on third place Preakness finisher Hard Spun, so the ride of Rags To Riches went to John Velazquez, who also had never won a Triple Crown event.

“I told (Anderson) it is going to be awfully hard for me to take Johnny off if this filly wins,” Pletcher said. “It’s very unfortunate for Garrett. I feel badly for him, for Ron Anderson.”

“When she stumbled, I had an immediately bad feeling,” Pletcher said. “But Johnny (Velazquez) and I talked and we wanted to be patient, keep her face clean. We’re fortunate to get it done.”

Image courtasy Adam Coglianese“She stumbled in error and the first thing I thought was, 'Why did it happen right now?,’” Velazquez said. “But Todd and I had talked and all we wanted was to give her a good chance around the turn. We didn’t want her jumping up and wasting a lot of energy. Garrett Gomez told me she will give you 100 percent without asking. It was unfortunate for him that he turned over the horse, but this victory goes with him, too.”

Even though this historic victory overshadowed another great run by Curlin, trainer Steve Asmussen was upbeat. “I thought Curlin ran extremely well,” said Asmussen, “They came into the stretch pretty much heads-up. He fought back very well. My hat is off to Rags to Riches. They ran the last quarter in :23 4/5 in a mile and a half race and she’s a deserving classic winner. We lose one the exact same way we won one." He said referring to Curlin's win against Street Sense in the Preakness.

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About T. Michael Testi

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