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Mo Donegal finishes 1st at Belmont Stakes, another Pletcher win


Todd Pletcher, a Triple Crown vet, offered simple advice to jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. Saturday before the Belmont Stakes.

Pletcher stated, “Be patient.” Pletcher said, “I believe you have the best final quarter of any horse within the race.”

Sometimes Mo is less.

Pletcher was able to pull away on the final stretch, and Mo Donegal held off filly Nest, winning the Belmont Stakes. Pletcher finished with a 1-2 result and his sixth Triple Crown win, four of which were at the track near New York City.

Jerry Crawford, Donegal Racing’s CEO and co-owner stated that “To be completely honest with you we were a bit confident going into today’s race.” He turned to go home and I thought, “Forget about it.” Todd was certain he could run the last quarter-mile strong, which he did.

Rich Strike, a stunning Kentucky Derby winner at 80-to-1 odds, was sixth.

Mo Donegal rounded the 1 1/2-mile distance in 2 minutes, 28.28 seconds, three lengths ahead of Nest — ridden by Ortiz’s brother, José. Pletcher who lives in Long Island adds another Belmont win to her collection of wins including Palace Malice (2013) and Rags-to Riches (2007).

Mo Donegal won a eight-horse field with no clear favourite. We the People was a mud monster that opened at 2:1 amid rainy conditions, but it reached 7:2 by race time, as the showers abated.

Mo Donegal, the 5-1 betting favourite entered the gates as the 2nd favorite. We the People led the race much of the time, but Mo Donegal & Ortiz came out on top.

This 3-year-old colt earned $7.20 and $3.80 respectively. Nest — who nearly became Pletcher’s second filly to win Belmont after Rags to Riches — paid $5.30 and $4.10. Skippylongstocking came in third place and paid $5.60 for the show. We the People placed fourth.

Rich Striker trainer Eric Reed and Rick Dawson held the Kentucky Derby winner of Rich Striker out of Preakness, with an eye on Belmont. Belmont was the first healthy horse that skipped Pimlico following his win in the Triple Crown’s inaugural even since 1985.

Reed said the team encouraged jockey Sonny Leon to try pushing Rich Strike from the outside, but the horse kept trying to get back inside — where he made a late charge past 19 horse to win at Churchill Downs. Rich Strike finished in last place for most of the race, and couldn’t get back up.

Reed stated that Reed believed they had made a tactical error.

Mo Donegal, just like Rich Strike was in the rear of the Derby pack, but Churchill Downs didn’t give the colt enough energy. It was Saturday that he found it, and he won the $1.5million race’s 154th edition.

Mo Donegal won out over Mike Repole, co-owner of Nest and a local entrepreneur who is known locally as Mike from Queens. Repole is also the co-owner of Nest.

“This New York’s largest race, and to win with my family and close friends and 70 other people, this will be an enormous winner’s circle,” said he.

The Triple Crown Contests are won for the fourth year straight by three horses. This marks a significant first in the history of the sport, which began in 1926-29.

This race was a return of form for Belmont after the 2020 Stakes had been closed to the public because of the pandemic. The 2021 event saw 11,238 people due to virus restrictions.

Because of congestion issues caused by the new arena for NHL’s New York Islanders, the capacity was again capped at 50,000. Long Island Rail Road fans still packed their cars with flowers, pastels, and the unmistakable smell of cigars, and they breathed new life into the track that has been around for 117 years.

Reports of attendance at 46,103 were far below the 120,139 that was set in 2004. Given the poor weather forecast, and the absence of any Triple Crown hopefuls, it was not much surprise.

It was also sparse. The field was also sparse. This raised concerns that the schedule of three Triple Crown races within five weeks might be too restrictive to ensure horses’ health.

Early Voting, the Preakness winner was left out. He will likely prepare for $1.25million Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 27. Epicenter was also absent.

Matareya won the $500,000 Acorn 3-year-old fillies race by 6 1/4 lengths in the $500,000 Acorn. The track vet advised Favorite Echo Zulu to scratch at the post.

Flavien Prat ridden Matareya ($2.60), who was trained by Brad Cox. Matareya won the mile in 1:15.77. This is her fifth career win.

Flightline, which was heavily favored by the public, started slow but overcame traffic issues and won six lengths in the $1,000,000 Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan Mile.

Tapit’s 4-year-old Tapit colt won the victory, keeping him undefeated for four consecutive career starts. He did not win this race by two-digits. Prat was also the rider and John Sadler trained Flightline ($2.90).