ELMONT, N.Y. -- Mark Casse entered this Triple Crown season without a Triple Crown win in a four-decade career as a trainer. After Saturday's Belmont Stakes, he has two.
But not as you might expect.
His "other" horse, Sir Winston took a smart path around the giant 1 1/2-mile course and cruised down the middle and inside of the stretch to win Saturday's 151st running of the race by one length over a gaining Tacitus. Casse's more heralded horse, Preakness winner War Of Will, finished a tiring ninth in the 10-horse field.
The race was run at a very slow pace, not unusual for the longest race in the Triple Crown. Joevia and Tax went to the lead and loped along down the backstretch. Things started to get interesting midway through the far turn as the pack bunched up. Sir Winston was seventh after a mile and made it to third in the next quarter mile before moving to second entering the stretch.
Because of the slow fractions, Joevia held on for third. He was followed by Tax, Master Fencer, Spinoff, Everfast, Intrepid Heart, War Of Will and Bourbon War.
Sir Winston, whom owner Tracy Farmer named after Winston Churchill, paid $22.40, $8.80 and $6.10.
If you believe in signs, you could point to the fact that jockey Joel Rosario got off Everfast, who finished second in the Preakness, to ride Sir Winston.
"He's a very nice horse and you have to let him do his thing," Rosario said of the colt he was riding for the first time. "I'm really happy. It seemed like he didn't mind (being) inside. I just took my time with him. ... He was a little closer so I let him be where he was comfortable."
It was Rosario's second Belmont Stakes win, having previously won with Tonalist in 2014.
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Sir Winston did not race in the Preakness or Kentucky Derby, instead coming out of the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont, where he finished second.
Casse's decision to try him in the Belmont proved to be the right one.
"I said all week he was doing really well," Casse said. "He had a race over the track (in the Peter Pan). What can I say, it's just exciting. I could see where War Of Will was struggling a little bit (on the turn). He looked like maybe he was a little flat today.
"I saw Joel cut the corner a little bit ... so I went to riding Sir Winston. I love War Of Will as well."
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