NEW YORK - For a few minutes, thoroughbred racing escaped the shadow of Barbaro.
Jazil dazzled in the $1 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday, winning the final leg of the Triple Crown over a lackluster field missing the injured Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness winner Bernardini.
But in the 2:27.86 it took to cover the 1½-mile Belmont, Jazil gave the cheering fans a chance to forget about Barbaro’s horrifying breakdown three weeks ago in the Preakness.
The 3-year-old colt was given a superb ride by 18-year-old Panamanian jockey Fernando Jara, who steadily rallied Jazil from last-to-first for a 1¼-length victory over Bluegrass Cat.
“You don’t know how I feel right now,” Jara said, who started riding in the United States two years ago. “This is amazing.”
Jara not only won his first Triple Crown race, but also helped a few prominent names in racing win theirs — trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and Dubai Sheik Hamdan, who operates Shadwell Stable.
“It is very hard to describe my feeling,” said McLaughlin, who trained for Sheik Hamdan in Dubai for nearly 10 years before returning home three years ago. “The people at Shadwell have been my biggest supporters for the last 12 years. It’s great to win this race for your favorite people.”
The win gave the sheiks of Dubai a second straight win in a classic. Bernardini is owned by Sheik Mohammed’s Darley Stable.
Jazil wove his way through the tightly packed 12-horse field, and Jara angled his bay colt to the outside for the stretch run.
“When he made the lead, I started looking for the wire,” McLaughlin said. “But when you make the lead and no one’s gaining on you, it’s a good feeling.”
But McLaughlin and Jara will take the victory, which came five weeks after Jazil finished in a dead heat for fourth with Brother Derek in the Derby.
Jazil returned $14.40, $6.70 and $4.70.
Trainer Todd Pletcher had the second and third-place finishers. Bluegrass Cat paid $6.40 and $4.70, while Sunriver paid $6.10. Pletcher, the nation’s top trainer, is now 0-for-21 in Triple Crown races.
An aging trainer, an unretired jockey and a 15-1 underdog teamed Saturday to shatter Orb's bid for the first Triple Crown since Affirmed won it in 1978.