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Creator wins Belmont Stakes by a nose

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Creator edges Destin in photo finish to win 148th Belmont Stakes

June 11 (Reuters) - Creator made a brilliant charge down the stretch to edge past Destin by a nose at the wire and win the 148th Belmont Stakes on Saturday, the final leg of U.S. racing's Triple Crown series for three-year-olds.

Joining in a thrilling finish was hard-charging, Japanese-based Lani, who finished third in the 1 1/2 mile (2.4 km) race, one lap around the massive Belmont Park track in Elmont, New York.

Check out photos of the exciting race:

17 PHOTOS
Belmont Stakes 2016
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Creator wins Belmont Stakes by a nose
Jun 11, 2016; Elmont, NY, USA; Creator (13) ridden by Irad Ortiz battles in the front stretch with Destin (2) ridden by Javier Castellano during the 148th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 11: Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. celebrates atop Creator after winning the The 148th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 11, 2016 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Jun 11, 2016; Elmont, NY, USA; Creator (13) ridden by Irad Ortiz battles in the front stretch with Destin (2) ridden by Javier Castellano during the 148th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2016; Elmont, NY, USA; Toms Ready ridden by Joel Rosario wins the 32nd running of the Woody Stephens before the 2016 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2016; Elmont, NY, USA; Tom's Ready ridden by Joel Rosario wins the 32nd running of the Woody Stephens before the 148th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2016; Elmont, NY, USA; Racing fans watch as the horses are paraded around the paddock before the third race of the day during the 148th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2016; Elmont, NY, USA; Creator (13) ridden by Irad Ortiz edges out Destin (2) ridden by Javier Castellano to win the 148th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Elmont, NY, USA; Lani ridden by Eishu Maruuchi trains on the main track in preparation for the 148th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 11: Fans fill the grandstand at Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes Day before the 148th Belmont Stakes on June 11, 2016 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 11: Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. celebrates atop Creator after as Destin with jockey Javier Castellano up follow winning the The 148th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 11, 2016 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 11: Creator with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. up and Destin #1 with jockey Javier Castellano up race to the finish during the The 148th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 11, 2016 in Elmont, New York. Creator with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. up won the race. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 11: Creator with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. up and Destin #1 with jockey Javier Castellano up race to the finish during the The 148th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 11, 2016 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 11: Creator with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. up and Destin #1 with jockey Javier Castellano up race to the finish during the The 148th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 11, 2016 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 11: Creator with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. up and Destin #1 with jockey Javier Castellano up race to past the finish during the The 148th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 11, 2016 in Elmont, New York. Creator with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. up won the race. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 11: The field races during the 115th running of The Woodford Reserve Manhattan prior to The 148th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 11, 2016 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Anthony Geathers/Getty Images)
Jun 7, 2016; Elmont, NY, USA; Exaggerator heads back to his barn after training for the 148th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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Creator, winner of the Arkansas Derby, came from 12th place in the 13-horse field, hugging the rail as jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. saved ground around the final turn before exploding through a tight gap and moving out in the straight to win the $1.5 million race.

"He was coming," Ortiz told NBC while still on the horse. "When he got clear, he started running. I know he passed the horse (Destin).

"It's an amazing feeling. It's very, very important for me," he said, pumping his fist and patting his heart as his voice broke with emotion.

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Creator, a 16/1 chance, paid $34.80, $14.60, $9.40 for a $2 bet. Destin paid $9.40, $6.20, while Lani returned $6.60.

Exaggerator, the 6/5 favorite, faded down the stretch to finish 11th, 14 3/4 lengths back, as jockey Kent Desormeaux eased his horse once it became obvious his race was run.

The result meant three different winners in the Triple Crown series as Nyquist won the Kentucky Derby, and Derby runner-up Exaggerator triumphed in the Preakness Stakes.

MIRACLE RUN

The race was run on a fast track although the threatened rain on a hot, humid day began to fall after the start.

Speed horse Gettysburg set the pace before Destin overtook him on the turn for home.

The long final straight set up a heart-pounding finish as Creator ran down Destin with virtually the final stride to cover the distance in two minutes, 28.51 seconds, while Lani made an electric charge of his own as the three gray colts left the rest behind.

It was a first Belmont win for jockey Ortiz and trainer Steve Asmussen, who earlier this year won election to the racing Hall of Fame.

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Asmussen praised Ortiz.

"I thought Irad gave him a dream trip," the trainer said. "Won it by inches, saved feet."

Creator rose to the occasion after a disappointing 13th in the 20-horse field in the Kentucky Derby, 18 lengths back.

"He proved his worth today," said Asmussen.

As the rain poured down during the trophy ceremony, celebrity chef Bobby Flay summed up the exuberant joy of Creator's connections, having bought a minority interest in the colt on Wednesday from owner Kenny Troutt.

"Creator created a miracle," said Flay as the rain washed over the victory party by the winner's circle.

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Andrew Both)

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