|(Rob Carr/Getty Images)|
Preakness winner Shackleford led from the start on Saturday, but when the field of 12 turned for home in the 1 1/2 -mile (2,400-meter) Belmont, 24-1 long shot Ruler on Ice took over winning by three-quarters of a length. Stay Thirsy’s second place finish was small consolation to owner Repole Stable whose Uncle Mo was the favorite for the Kentucky Derby only to scratch because of illness.
The much-hyped contest between Shackleford and Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom never materialized as Animal Kingdom was involved in a hockey match leaving the gate almost losing jockey John Velazquez. Velazquez showed some spectacular athleticism by merely staying aboard, but the popular Derby winner lost too much ground to make up.
|(Nick Laham/Getty Images)|
Brilliant Speed finished third followed by Nehro, Shackleford and Animal Kingdom.
An elated Valdivia, riding in his first Belmont, described the final seconds before crossing the finish line.
“I’m a couple of yards from the wire and I’m thinking, `Oh my god, oh my god, I’m going to win the Belmont,”’ he said.
Ruler On Ice paid $51.50 to win and the $2 exacta with Stay Thirsty paid $928.
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