In a rendition of the Belmont Stakes that was almost always touted as wide open, Greg "The Commish" Johnson selected the top three runners in the exact order of finish on The Downey Profile Subscription Page.
After pretty much dismissing seven of the 12 entries, Johnson had some nice things to say about Senior Investment and Lookin at Lee, and then had this to say about Tapwrit, Irish War Cry and Patch:
"3. PATCH should once again be the sentimental favorite, as this lightly raced, one-eyed wonder gets the services of John Velasquez, the only guy to have ever won on him. He is bred up and down and all around to love this Belmont distance, and an even work with his stablemate over this surface makes him a true contender at what should be pretty decent odds.
"2. IRISH WAR CRY is fresh and rested, and one of two that have won multiple graded stakes races on the road to and through the Triple Crown races. He seems to love New York, and this son of Curlin won’t have that pretty filly to keep his focus away from winning like his Daddy years ago in this event. A New Jersey-bred winning the big one in the Big Apple? Sure, it can happen.
"1. TAPWRIT gets the nod in this very contentious betting race for me. Looking back at past performances, I tried to find a race, or two, that gives him that edge. Those two Tampa races do it for me, one a track record in losing, and right back with a track record romp in the Tampa Bay Derby. I am willing to draw a line through those last two, and a return to this form puts this son of Tapit, whose offspring have dominated this race in recent years comparative to other sires, in the winner’s circle at a decent price."
SELECTIONS BY THE COMMISH
2. IRISH WAR CRY
4. SENIOR INVESTMENT
Dick Downey picked Tapwrit as his second choice after writing this about him and stablemate Patch:
"I like Tapwrit. Sons of Tapit have a great recent record in the Belmont Stakes, and after Irish War Cry veered in on him at the start, he overcame a pretty bad trip to finish sixth in the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Pletcher said a few days ago that Tapwrit fits the Destin mold, and he does in fact fit that mold for now. All he has to do is run a big race to fill the bill. Jose Ortiz, who is very familiar with the track, will be in the irons. Tapwrit is looking well on the track in the mornings. I feel that he ran much better in the Kentucky Derby than he did in the Blue Grass. There's a lot to like about him, not the least of which is the fact that Tapit is his sire.
"I want to comment on Tapwrit's last workout, which was in company with Patch. I think Tapwrit won that workout. His rider was sitting chilly the whole time while Patch was being pushed in the stretch to stay on even terms.
"Patch has four career races, and he's run well in three of them. He can be forgiven for his crummy result in the Derby. He never had a chance out there in post 20. He drew post 12 for the Belmont, which is also the far outside post, but he has jockey Velazquez in his corner, there aren't as many horses, and it's a longer race. I think he'll run better in the Belmont than he did in the Derby, but I think Tapwrit will beat him."
These results capped off a Triple Crown season in which Downey and Johnson each picked Always Dreaming to win the Kentucky Derby. It was the fourth straight year Downey correctly predicted the Derby winner, and it was the third year of the last four that Greg picked the Derby winner as well.
The Preakness wasn't as kind to Downey and Johnson, but, as the old song goes, two out of three ain't bad.
Thanks for everything, and we hope to see you for next year's runup to the Kentucky Derby!