NEW YORK (AP) – The finish was dramatic, even without a Triple Crown on the line.
Creator found an opening in the stretch and ran down Destin in the final stride to win the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes by a nose – the closest possible margin of victory. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., pointed to the sky in an appropriate winning salute given the horse’s name.
“Today was perfect for us, by inches,” said 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.”
The 50-year-old trainer has won more than 7,300 races, including the Preakness with champions Curlin in 2007 and Rachel Alexandra in 2009. He was taken off the Hall of Fame ballot last year, though, because of allegations made by PETA about the way he treated his horses. He was later cleared by racing authorities in Kentucky and New York.
The 1 1/2-mile “Test of the Champion” wrapped up the Triple Crown a year after American Pharoah’s run to glory in becoming the first horse in 37 years to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. A different horse won each leg this time – Nyquist took the Derby and Exaggerator won the Preakness.