Dogwood Stable's Finality took the overland route to a one-length victory over Union Place in the $200,000 Jamaica Handicap (gr. IIT) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 mile on Belmont's inner turf course.
Starting in the outside slot in a field of nine, rider John Velazquez kept the New York-bred son of Dehere just off the lead throughout and out of any potential trouble on the far outside of pace-setting Union Place and Ibn Al Haitham.
When they hit the stretch, Finality and Union Place went on with it all the way to the wire while Ibn Al Haitham faded.
"I knew I would be 1-2-3 when we turned for home," Velazquez said. "He really exploded when I asked him. No one could kick with him."
Finality completed the 1 1/8-mile turf handicap for 3-year-olds in 1:46 3/5.
"He got a good trip today and everything worked out smoothly," Pletcher said. "He kicked on strong through the lane and 1:46 3/5 is racehorse time."
Frontrunner Union Place (:24 2/5, :47 4/5 and 1:11) battled through the stretch to finish second under Edgar Prado. Chiselling, under visiting rider Kent Desormeaux, finished third as the 2.45-1 favorite.
Chiseling and Jazz Beat kept close company behind the leaders, but Jazz Beat, outisde of Chiseling, was forced to take up on the turn, losing all chance, and Chiseling was unable to get off the rail until mid-stretch, when he lacked the needed rally to catch the leaders. He wound up third.
Said Desormeaux: "The pace was slow for these horses and I got caught up in that pocket. I had to wait for room to make my move. Once I had room, everyone made their moves. He kicked hard and ran a good race."
"It seemed like such a tough race from top to bottom, it was hard to identify a clear-cut favorite," Pletcher said. "They've all taken turns beating each other. At a mile and a quarter Chiselling nailed us late, but we thought a mile and an eighth would be a more suitable distance for us."
Finality had lost three staight graded stakes, including a half-length defeat to Ibn Al Haitham in his most recent start, the Saranac (gr. IIIT) at Saratoga.
But Finality thrives at Belmont, where he won for the fourth time in five starts on the sod, his lone loss by a nose to Chiseling at 1 1/4 miles in the Lexington (gr. III) July 14. All four of Finality's career wins have come on the Belmont turf. This was his first graded stakes victory, and the $120,000 first-place purse pushed his earnings to more than $210,000.
Sent off at 9-1 in the field of nine, Finality paid $21, $11 and $5.80. Union Place returned $12 and $6.10. Chiseling's show price was $2.90. Irish-bred Macaw, making his first U.S. start, was fourth.
It was a double for Pletcher and Velazquez in Belmont stakes races Sunday. They teamed to win the $81,275 Schenectady Handicap with heavily-favored Maddie May.
Maddie May won the 6-furlong sprint for older New York-bred fillies and mares in 1:11 over the fast track.
Maddie May -- a 5-year-old dark bay New York-bred mare by Not For Love, out of Lady by Design (Fast Play) -- earned $48,965 for So Madcapt Stable. She is now 8-5-0 from 18 starts with total earnings of $395,001.