Last year's Belmont Stakes hero Tapwrit will make his graded stakes return as part of a field of 11 in the Grade 2, $700,000 Suburban at 1 1/4 miles on Saturday at Belmont Park.
Installed as Race 9 with an approximate post time of 6:18 p.m. ET on Saturday's 11-race Stars & Stripes live racing program, the 132nd running of the Suburban will kick off a special edition of Belmont Park Live airing from 6-7 p.m. nationally on FS2 and regionally on MSG+, FOX Sports Prime Ticket and FOX Sports San Diego, and capped by the Grade 1, $1.2 million Belmont Derby Invitational.
Tapwrit, a 4-year-old colt by Tapit for trainer Todd Pletcher, will be making his second start of the year following a third-place finish in his seasonal bow, a loaded optional claiming contest on June 3, where he finished 1 1/4 lengths behind Grade 3 winner Timeline.
In 2017, Tapwrit recorded a victory in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby in March of his 3-year-old season before competing in the first and final legs of the Triple Crown, capped by his two-length victory over Irish War Cry in the Belmont Stakes. Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbreds, Robert LaPenta, Bridlewood Farm, Gainesway Stable, and Whisper Hill Farm, Tapwrit was pointed to the Grade 1 Travers 11 weeks later at Saratoga Race Course, where he finished fourth, and was then tabled for the remainder of the year.
“The thought process after the Travers last year was that he needed some time off,” said Pletcher. “He shed a frog in that race and it took a while for him to get healed up, so we purposely gave him a little extra time with the idea that we wanted to have a fresh horse for the summer and hopefully the fall. So far, it's coming together.”
Tapwrit will be ridden by Jose Ortiz from post 4.
Among those leading the challenge are a pair from California-based Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert in Hoppertunity and Dr. Dorr.
Hoppertunity is a perfect 2-for-2 at Belmont, beginning with a half-length win in the 2016 Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and continuing last time out with a 2 1/4-length score in the 1 1/2-mile Grade 2 Brooklyn on Belmont Stakes Day.
Owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman, the 7-year-old son of Any Given Saturday owns a 9-7-5 record from 32 lifetime starts for earnings of $4,646,625 through five seasons of racing, including back-to-back victories in the Grade 2 San Antonio in 2016-17 and a half-length win in the 2014 Grade 1 Clark Handicap.
“He loves Belmont and he likes a mile and a quarter. He keeps going at a mile and a quarter,” said Baffert. “It's coming back a little bit quick for him, but he's doing well so he's shipping back again. It's a big race. He gives you everything he has. He runs every time. He's just a solid racehorse.”
Dr. Dorr, a speedy 5-year-old Lookin at Lucky gelding, is exiting a runner-up finish to Santa Anita Handicap winner Accelerate in the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita on May 26.
“As soon as we stretched him out, he's gotten to be a better horse,” Baffert said of Dr. Dorr, who is cross-entered in Friday's Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows. “A mile and a quarter might be a little far with him, but it depends on the pace. He's doing well. A big field usually means it's pretty evenly matched and they have two different styles. They're both training well, they shipped well – all is well. If we can just run 1-2, it'd be perfect.”
Hoppertunity drew post 8 and will have the services of his regular jockey, Flavian Prat. Dr. Dorr will leave from post 5 with Joe Talamo aboard.
Rounding out the field for the Suburban are Lauren Evans and Ralph M. Evans' 2017 Jockey Club Gold Cup hero Diversify, exiting a hard-fought win in the Commentator for New York-breds on May 28; The Lieutenant, a 5-year-old half-brother to Triple Crown victor Justify and making his first start on the East Coast following a one-length win in the Grade 3 All American over Golden Gate's Tapeta course; hard-knocking multiple stakes winner War Story; Name Changer; Zanotti; Discreet Lover; Take Your Guns; and Sorry Erik.
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