June 9, 2007
NEW YORK (cbssportsline.com/AP) -- Rags to Riches can beat the boys, too.
The fabulous filly outdueled Curlin in a breathtaking stretch run and won the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, becoming the first of her sex to take the final leg of the Triple Crown in more than a century.
No one was happier with the victory than trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez, who both ended long droughts in Triple Crown races: Pletcher was 0-for-28, Velazquez 0-for-20.
The normally reserved Pletcher was screaming throughout the stretch run, one that had the fans at Belmont Park on their feet roaring as the two stars battled saddlecloth to saddlecloth to the wire.
Rags to Riches, despite a slight stumble at the start, became the third filly to capture the Belmont -- Ruthless took the first running in 1867 and Tanya won in 1905. Only 22 fillies have tried the Belmont, with Rags to Riches the first since Silverbulletday finished seventh in 1999.
And what a sensational Belmont it was, even without Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense.
When the field of seven 3-year-olds made the turn for home in the 1 1/2-mile race, fours horses fought for the lead, with Rags to Riches, the Kentucky Oaks winner, on the outside and Preakness winner Curlion moving between rivals.
And then it became a two-horse race - a true battle of the sexes. In a furious stretch battle, with Velazquez urging his filly on, Rags to Riches won by a head - the same margin Curlin edged Street Sense by in the Preakness three weeks ago.
"The filly ran a great race on the right day," said Curlin's trainer, Steve Asmussen. "And now they're taking her picture."
Rags to Riches covered the 1 1/2 miles in 2:28.74, well off Secretariat's track record of 2:24. But time didn't matter in this one.
The Associated Press News Service