Creator Brings The Rain In 2016 Belmont Stakes

by | 06.11.2016 | 7:04pm
Creator (13) and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. win the Belmont Stakes
Creator (13) and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. win the Belmont Stakes

WinStar Farm and Bobby Flay's Creator nosed out Destin to win the 148th running of the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, covering the 12 furlongs in 2:28.51 over Belmont Park's fast main track. Just after the son of Tapit crossed the wire, rains began to fall over the Belmont oval, drenching the connections in the winner's circle and leaving a rainbow over the emotional scene. It was the first Belmont Stakes victory for jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. and for trainer Steve Asmussen.

“He proved his worth today,” said Asmussen. “It's the best feeling right now. The great thing about racing; you can have a bad day, a bad week, a bad month. They don't put you behind the gates, they line you up even and give you a chance to prove yourself. Obviously want to say thanks for the opportunity with a horse like him that can prove he's good enough to win the Belmont Stakes.”

WinStar CEO Elliott Walden high-fives Irad Ortiz after Creator wins the Belmont Stakes

WinStar CEO Elliott Walden high-fives Irad Ortiz after Creator wins the Belmont Stakes

Creator was named by WinStar CEO Elliott Walden, a very religious man. “We liked this horse an awful lot as a 2-year-old, and I don't know, God might have given me a sign,” said Walden. “We are a Christian farm, and the Troutts are Christians, and faith is very important to them, and their relationship with Christ is very important to them.”

Celebrity chef Bobby Flay must have also seen something special in Creator, as he purchased a minority interest in the colt just last week.

“It's not really the thing I usually do because I usually buy fillies,” said Flay. “But having a chance to be involved with a horse like that, with a farm like that, and the people that are involved in it, just it was a no brainer for me.”

Earlier this week WinStar Farm, Creator's majority owner, entered another colt, the speedster Gettysburg, in the 148th running of the Belmont Stakes. This move totally changed the complexion of the race, allowing Creator's typical late-running style to be far more effective than it might otherwise have been.

Despite trainer Asmussen's week-long insistence that Gettysburg was not entered as a “rabbit” for Creator, that's pretty much how the race played out. Destin broke sharply and went to challenge for the lead under Javier Castellano, but Gettysburg and Paco Lopez out-sprinted that Todd Pletcher trainee to make the front. While the early fractions weren't out of the norm for top-level competitors, :24.09 and :48.48 for the quarter and the half-mile, respectively, they allowed the large number of late-closing horses a better chance to finish strong.

“Gettysburg did his job,” said Asmussen. The speedy colt had been transferred to his stable from Todd Pletcher's barn not long before the Belmont. “A great call by Elliott [Walden] there. Forty-eight and four for a half allowed Creator to show who he is.”

While Gettysburg pushed out to a 1 1/2-length lead near the half-mile mark, Destin closed that gap on him approaching the half-way point of the race; the pair were just a neck apart through three-quarters in 1:13.38. The heavily favored Exaggerator was not far off the pace-setters with clear sailing along the outside of Stradivari, and it was at about this point that he began to struggle against jockey Kent Desormeaux, fighting to be turned loose and ranging up into third position.

Near the rear of the field waited Creator and Ortiz, as far as 21 lengths off the leaders in the early going. Just as Exaggerator begged for more rein, Creator was beginning to make his way between horses, moving into sixth by the one-mile mark. Gettysburg was still in front at this point, but was quickly tiring, and Destin took over to mark the mile in 1:37.96. The rapidly-slowing Gettysburg backed up into the path of Governor Malibu just as that colt made his move, forcing jockey Joel Rosario to check sharply.

Along the outside, Desormeaux began asking more of the Preakness-winning Exaggerator, but to no avail.

“It was a gallop to the half-mile pole,” explained Desormeaux. “I couldn't believe we were going so slow for such an animal, such a talent, such a horse with expeditious speed. We quickened at the four and a half, and this horse I had about 10 pounds of pressure on the reins asking him to wait. It took about that. I was pulling with about 10 pounds of pressure.

“We switched leads where we normally start racing on little racetracks and the guys in front quickened and I elected, ‘Ok, well I like my position and don't want to lose it. He can a run half a mile from here.' So, I released the lines and now I had about four pounds of pressure on him, and they kept opening up on me. I was praying to God that the reins were lying to me. The horse that was keen to progress was not underneath me. I nursed him to the quarter pole and set him down, put him down for a mad drive and said, ‘Show me your stuff,' and there was nothing there. By the time we got to the eighth pole he was stepping on his tongue and I said that's enough.”

At nearly the same time, Creator and Ortiz made their way up the rail, finding a seam along the inside. Just four lengths off the lead at the head of the lane, Ortiz had to be very patient in waiting for a hole to open in front of him. The tiring Exaggerator was blocking him from going around the outside, and Governor Malibu's interrupted rally was to Ortiz's inside. Finally, a seam opened as Stradivari drifted out slightly, and Creator exploded through with little urging from Ortiz.

It was game on from that point. Ortiz focused on riding Creator with his arms and his body, only urging the colt on once with a left-handed stick. In the final sixteenth of a mile, Creator found his best stride and accelerated to just get his nose down in front of Destin at the wire. It was a turn of fate from the Belmont Stakes in 2007, when Todd Pletcher's Rags to Riches just bested Steve Asmussen's future Horse of the Year Curlin by a head.

A joyous Asmussen celebrates as Creator is declared the winner.

A joyous Asmussen celebrates as Creator is declared the winner.

“I'm glad to see him put that number up; they came to the wire together,” exhaled Asmussen just as Creator was declared the winner. “Irad gave him a dream trip. He saved yards and he won by inches. He made the difference.”

Finishing third in the Belmont Stakes was the fan-favorite, often-entertaining Lani, who closed from dead last to finish just 1 3/4 lengths behind Destin. The troubled Governor Malibu was relegated to fourth, 2 3/4 lengths behind the Japanese-trained Lani.

After the horses galloped out, Jose Ortiz, who'd ridden Forever d'Oro to finish far back of the field for Dallas Stewart, rode up alongside the winner to give his brother a jubilant high-five.

“It's an amazing feeling. It's very important to me,” said an emotional Irad Ortiz. “He was calm and I just waited for somewhere to go. When he got clear, he started running.”

Irad Ortiz celebrates just after crossing the wire on Creator

Irad Ortiz celebrates just after crossing the wire on Creator

Bred in Kentucky by Mt. Brilliant Broodmares I, Creator hammered for $440,000 as a yearling at the Keeneland September sale. He is out of a multiple graded stakes-placed daughter of Privately Held. He was one of the top choices for the Kentucky Derby following a strong late-running victory in the Arkansas Derby, but lost all chance when interfered with at the start on the first Saturday in May. With a second Grade 1 victory under his belt, Creator now boasts a career record of 3-4-1 from 10 starts, with earnings of over $1.6 million.

“Every race he's improved upon himself, except for the Derby where he got stopped, and I'm really excited about his future,” said Walden of Creator. “Today just validated his whole career to this point. If he didn't win today, you'd think, well, maybe the Arkansas Derby was just a fluke, but the fact that he won today validates everything that he's done, and he's going to be a horse that's going to be a lot of fun.”

Watch the race replay here:

 

  • larry

    Lost my money on the day but take a bow NYRA great racing !

  • Mousse

    Where’s Andrew……

  • Karen West

    Big difference was the jockey change, not Gettysburg.

    • Lefty_Orioles_Fan

      Maybe, maybe not.
      I just remember how happy Santana was when he won on Creator in the Arkansas Derby.
      Honestly, there are too many horses in the Derby. The Kentucky Derby has turned into a bit of a joke, it’s not about the best horses, it about if you can afford to get in to the race.
      It’s not about belonging at all.

      • Karen West

        I agree about your thoughts on the Derby. I was so excited to see 4 sons of Tapit hit the board in 2 important races that I was just rushing out my thoughts; but still Belmont is a special place, and it certainly helped to have such an accomplished jockey on board.

  • doug

    I did causally mention that Exaggerator was not working correctly, earlier in the week. But Im an old man , what would I know.?? I did have a bet on him but I had100 on the hose he beat. So I don’t know so much. All humbly shared.I do enjoy your report.

  • Sampan

    Winstar paid $440,000 for Creator and they have managed his career very well.
    Congratulations.

  • realfan

    There’s nothing wrong with a rabbit! Frank Whitely did it with Hedavar for Damascus! Same owner, all’s fair in love and war!

  • Audrey Gulla

    OMG!!! What a race!! Thrilling! I was sorry for Exaggerator though. I so hoped he’d get his moment to shine again……

  • james nicholson

    13 is this horses lucky number.
    13 horse field
    Broke 13th
    Finished 13 in Derby
    Grey horse trifecta paid $1300

    • Sampan

      I like that last line.
      My wife loves greys and would have had it.

  • Robin

    Great day for the Sons of Tapit and a great day for Gray horses. Congratulations to the connections of Creator.

  • Steve

    Triple Crown claims another victim in Exaggerator. Don’t think we’ll see him anytime soon…

    • Elle D

      It happens. No cause to lay blame. Sometimes they lose. Ex is going to WinStar for a break, well deserved.

  • Charles Smith

    Gettysburg and Creator had common ownership, all week long, their trainer had the stones to say Gettysburg wasn’t a rabbit, that he was in on his own merits. It was clear what the plan was, so for the very small percentage of players who actually bet Gettysburg, they can’t complain about the outcome. However, anyone connected with Governor Malibu would have a lot to chirp about. Malibu was advancing, but got stopped cold by a horse that shared common ownership with the winner.

  • Tinky

    Good to see owners who have put so much into the game rewarded.

    • artistinwax

      Tinky, Governor Malibu was stopped 3 times, the third time supposedly by Gettysburg, but instead, I think that Creator found the hole first and took it, the same hole GM was going for. They were both behind a wall of horses and Ortiz got his charge through it. I saw a nice turn of foot when he got loose and he won! It was a very thrilling race!

      • artistinwax

        The jockeys sure made the difference in this one.

        • ben

          Lani lost 56 lenghts according Trakus, so indeed the jockeys made the difference. In my humble opinion, he is the moral winner. Although that does not pay something

          • ben

            Lani lost 56 yards, insteads of lenghts and some more because of racing lasix free.

          • urisha

            Ben (and artist and Lefty) – I’m glad now that I don’t confuse Trakus’ value with any sort of handicapping Prime Directive (e.g., Beyer Numbers since they ceased having useful value after Andrew, albeit a remarkably insightful and astute handicapper, “franchised and monetized it. [More power to you for it, too!]) ; After reading your letter(s) — and having also made a Lani/Creator box, with a large value press on Lani on top, my major play of the entire Festival weekend — along with lots of smaller tri’s, which omitted Destin entirely (for SBN no less!), and many more smaller supers, having Destin only in bottom slot, – and whatever few Destin win/place bets I could make before being shut out [curse you DRFBets for technical imcompetence, – and fie on me for procrasinating], but I digress — my point is that I feel your pain — financially foremost but a blow to my ego as well since I have been “stuck” on Lani since making a small future bet on him at 14-1 some 2-3 weeks ago… which of course just leads to the painful, stomach-churning question of why Creator at 14-1 who was plainly a better horse than, and therefore an immensely superior value to, the Lani future bet at 14-1 (which I must here confess was only a token bet to bankroll a TV token bet fetish for any remaining NBA playoff game(s))
            IN OTHER WORDS: why did Creator’s 14-1 odds NEVER register even once in my conscious mind during at least 3 minutes of”betting time” in which I checked his exacta odds with ##4, 10 and 13 multiple times [even tho i had to switch screens numerous times- wasting about ten seconds each time- from separate wager pad AND separate video – because of malfunctioning DRFBets “Multiview”?
            Anyway, personal results irrelevant and demons aside: great race, great Ortiz ride; Kudos to Donnie AND to Todd. And sorry, artist, but Governor Malibu regained full stride as Creator was still widening between them (and Lani also motored past GM). Watch from just before the eighth pole in. I did thrice [sorry, couldn’t resist] And, although “my” Lani was moving very well at the end, Ben, I don’t think he ran 54 lengths farther than either Creator or Destin!

          • artistinwax

            Yes, Governor Malibu hit the opening hole after Creator went through it first. For a moment, both had access, but Ortiz got Creator through, boxing in GM for the 3rd time. When Creator got going, GM got going also, but it was a couple of lengths afterwards. He had no chance to catch up.

  • Daniel Jividen

    Nice race. As so often in the Belmont it turned out to be a jockey’s race. I’ve got to believe, however, that Governor Malibu would have won if he hadn’t been blocked so badly mid-stretch.

    • Kelly

      Totally agree GM would had been in the winners circle had he not been blocked!

    • we’re watching

      Which brings me to another point about the lousy made for TV race call by Larry Colmus. He’s so busy developing catch phrases that his style of description about the movement particulars of the race are left unsaid.
      Used to love his calls at Monmouth, now it’s all about screaming and playing up tot he NBC producers.

  • J

    Beautiful Race/Beautiful Story. I am Very Happy for Steve Asmussen – Great Trainer. He is in a Winning Zone this year – NEXT Stop Hall of Fame.

  • Ida Lee

    WTHey???? I didn’t see any of this coming … not even close…. I heard Exaggerator was rank … I did see some head shaking on his part. at the start of the race..I don’t know…I just did not see this coming at all…. Congratulations to Creator…beautiful horse, great run …

    • Lefty_Orioles_Fan

      Really, I always liked Creator. Was a big fan of him when i saw him win the Arkansas Derby.
      I liked for the Derby, but he got tripped up by Oscar Nominated, who in my opinion had no business being in the race. Anyway, I did not bet on the race because I just wasn’t feeling it. Although if I had, I probably would have had a Creator/Lani exacta and it would have been a losing ticket and I would have been kicking myself for not betting Creator straight up. Anyway, it should be an exciting summer of racing. I look forward to seeing the Saratoga races, maybe Monmouth, and maybe the Pa Derby will get some big names and then I look forward to the Breeder’s Cup.

      Oh and keep a good eye on Shuggy Baby’s horse Promote if it he can take it to the next level. His father is Blame and while he wasn’t on the Triple Crown trail, he broke his maiden with a solid 1:09 and change time. We might see him in the Breeder’s Cup if he can get a win or two at Saratoga or maybe a win at the Pa Derby, if he can get in.

      • Ida Lee

        Thanks for the tip on Promote…I’ll be on the lookout for him. I really liked his daddy Blame ….

        • Lefty_Orioles_Fan

          Not a problem.

    • Lost In The Fog – Robert Lee

      Creator’s KD run was a toss (very troubled trip), his pedigree for the Belmont distance was second best of any horse in the field, his rider is one of the hottest jockeys in the country and you’re getting 16-1 odds. There was a lot to like about Creator’s chances…

    • Elle D

      He took my breath away the first time I saw him backside at Churchill. A stunner.

  • Skip Ean

    I had Creator for place and show. I enjoyed watching Lani! Reminds me of Shackleford being so excited all the time. I’m grateful all horses and jockeys made it home safely. I understand there was a trip and fall in an earlier race–hope it was not a bad one.

  • Michael Castellano

    Looked like Exaggerator wanted to go early, and didn’t respond to being rated that well. Might have been because they had decided to keep him closer? In any case he looked finished at just past the mile and a quarter mark. And never seemed to truly relax. I’m sure Kent is going to be blamed for a bad ride. But it looked like the horse was too keen and either had to be held too hard or move too early? Either way, he probably loses.

    • we’re watching

      Exaggerator is a slop horse. If it doesn’t rain, he doesn’t win.

      • Elle D

        Then I guess the “creator” held it off until after the race.

      • artistinwax

        I watched the weather forecast for 24 hours before the race. It was supposed to rain hard early in the day, then the weather forecasters moved it back hour after hour. Up to about 4 p.m. race day, it was supposed to rain at 4, 5 then 6 p.m. It never rained in time for Exaggerator. The track was hard and fast and maybe that is not the footing he does his best on. The race times on Saturday were all so very fast. Good luck for some, bad luck for Exaggerator. Yes, Elle D, The Creator wanted his namesake to have a chance!! I wish I could have seen that rainbow!!

        • idavis

          Google Getty Images of Belmont Stakes, awesome photo!

      • Michael Castellano

        Could be.

  • albert

    great race steve and a clean ride to the wire special thanks to the industry seeing a trainer win from the old school learning from the ground up y did a great job steve and this time lady luck was on you side she gave the connections a clear trip a healthy horse and thats what it takes

  • Frida Viv

    It gives we theists pause for reflection when a horse named “Creator,” after our Heavenly Father, wins The Belmont Stakes and a RAINBOW appears over the Winner’s Circle. I wish to fully acknowledge that ALL views on Faith & spiritual matters deserve respect. All human beings deserve validation of their personal choices. However, as a believer, I found this situation very interesting. Peace, Love to ALL.

    • Elle D

      Similar thought yesterday. Elliott’s faith is very apparent as he often speaks to it when he’s present at events here in Lex.

  • BK

    Nice race call Larry! Great job. Great race.

  • Tres Abagados Stupidos

    Where do I get one of those PSI gauges that Desormeaux was carrying with him that determines how much pressure you are putting on the reins?

    • Doug Bennett

      Lolz, I loved Desormeaux’s detailed commentary as well. Also interesting to note Keith’s rationale for Exaggerator’s last minute withdrawal from the Jim Dandy because he didn’t take to the “loose and cuppy” Saratoga main track. Didn’t stop them from entering the Travers though. Point being, take everything these guys say with a grain of salt.

  • Randy

    When you google Tapit’s value it come up 140 million. I think that may have doubled after yesterday

  • Karen Phinney Kirkpatrick

    Fabulous, fascinating race… more twists and turns than any steeple chase… this is why I LOVE thoroughbred horse racing…I had picked Creator to win the Kentucky Derby and was disappointed in his lackluster run for the roses…HE HAS REDEEMED HIMSELF through excellent jockeying by Irad Ortiz!!! 😍😍😍

  • Canarse

    Great race. Incredible performance by Destin as well as Creator. The dirt was not favorable for front runners Saturday. Great two days at Belmont. The lighter crowd made it a real pleasure. Love seeing a triple crown attempt, but having a manageable crowd is even better. I was concerned about the short fields in many of the races on Friday. Plenty of money there, but not enough horses! I thought I was in California. Need to adjust the stakes schedule. Trying too hard to push the long dirt races it appears.

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