NEW YORK - An underachiever finally came through in the $1 million Belmont Stakes and gave Hall of Famers Bill Mott and Mike Smith milestones they have been seeking for decades.
Drosselmeyer, left out of the Kentucky Derby because he failed to earn enough money, outlasted a couple of Dudes and held off Fly Down by three-quarters of a length on Saturday to win the final leg of the Triple Crown.
The win by the gleaming 3-year-old chestnut colt ended Smith's 0-for-12 riding record in the Belmont, and gave Mott his first victory in a Triple Crown race.
"To finally win this one," Smith said, "unbelievable."
With neither Derby winner Super Saver nor Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky in the field, the 11/2-mile Belmont looked to be a matchup of classic runners-up - Ice Box from the Derby vs. First Dude from the Preakness.
First Dude took the lead but couldn't hold off Drosselmeyer in the stretch and finished third after giving way to Fly Down in the final strides.
Ice Box, the 9-5 favorite trained by Nick Zito, was never in contention and finished ninth in the 12-horse field. Zito's Fly Down ended up as the 5-1 second choice.
Bought by WinStar Farm for $600,000, Drosselmeyer started his career on turf; won two races on dirt; then went 0 for 3 in the Risen Star, Louisiana Derby, and the Dwyer, in which he was beaten by six lengths by Fly Down on May 8.
"It all came together," said Mott, best known as the trainer of the great Cigar in 1995-96. "I think it was just a matter of time with some of the good horses I get to train that it was going to happen."
One reason it happened may have been a jockey switch to Smith from Kent Desormeaux, who was aboard Drosselmeyer for seven of his eight starts.
"I felt like the horse needed a little change in routine," WinStar racing manager Elliott Walden said. "We went to Mike because we felt he would get him in a rhythm and keep him running. This horse really kicked hard turning for home and finished strong."
WinStar closed out the Triple Crown with wins in two races - it also owns Derby winner Super Saver.
In front of 45,243 at Belmont Park, Drosselmeyer was sent off at odds of 13-1. The winning time was 2 minutes, 31.57 seconds, the slowest since Thunder Gulch won in 2:32 in 1995.
After the race, Uptowncharlybrown was disqualified and unplaced after a weight violation. The horse lost his lead weight pad during the race and failed to carry the required 126 pounds.
Drosselmeyer, named for a character in Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, earned $600,000 for the win and more than quadrupled his career total to $801,170.
On the undercard. Winchester beat Gio Ponti by a half-length to give trainer Christophe Clement a 1-2 finish in the $400,000 Manhattan Handicap on the turf.
Champagne d'Oro pulled off a 39-1 shocker in the $300,000 Acorn Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, paying $81 to win.
Bribon won his first race for trainer Todd Pletcher, sweeping past the pack to win the $250,000 True North Handicap.
Proviso earned a second consecutive Grade 1 win in the $400,000 Just a Game Stakes for fillies and mares on the turf.