Mo Donegal finishes 1st at Belmont, another Pletcher win

NEW YORK (AP) — Triple Crown veteran Todd Pletcher had easy recommendation Saturday for jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. earlier than the Belmont Stakes.

“Be patient,” Pletcher mentioned. “I think you have the best last quarter of any horse in the race.”

Sometimes, much less is Mo.

Mo Donegal pulled away down the house stretch and held off filly Nest to win the Belmont Stakes, giving Pletcher a 1-2 end and his 6th Triple Crown victory, together with 4 at this monitor at the outskirts of New York City.

“To be honest with you, we were a little confident going into the race today,” Donegal Racing CEO and co-owner Jerry Crawford mentioned. “When he turned for home, I was like, forget about it. I know Todd thought he could get a strong last quarter mile, and he sure did.”

Donegal rounded the 1 1/2-mile monitor in 2 mins, 28.28 seconds, forward of Nest and Skippylongstocking. Pletcher, who lives on Long Island, provides some other Belmont name following wins with Rags to Riches in 2007, Palace Malice in 2013 and Tapwrit in 2017.

Mo Donegal beat a wide-open, eight-horse box with out a transparent favourite — We the People, a monster within the dust, opened at 2 to at least one amid a wet forecast however reached 7 to two via race time as showers held off.

Mo Donegal entered the gate the having a bet favourite at 5 to two. We the People led for a lot of the race, however Mo Donegal and Ortiz took rate popping out of the general flip.

The 3-year-old colt paid $7.20, $3.80 and $3. Nest — who just about turned into Pletcher’s 2nd filly to win Belmont after Rags to Riches — paid $5.30 and $4.10, and Skippylongstocking returned $5.60 to turn.

Rich Strike, a surprising Kentucky Derby winner at 80-to-1 odds, was once 6th after proprietor Rick Dawson and teacher Eric Reed held him out of the Preakness with an eye fixed on Belmont. Rich Strike was once the primary wholesome Derby winner to skip Pimlico since 1985.

Reed mentioned the group inspired jockey Sonny Leon to check out pushing Rich Strike from the out of doors, however the horse stored seeking to get again within — the place he made a overdue rate previous 19 horse to win at Churchill Downs.

“I think we just made a tactical error,” Reed mentioned.

Just like Rich Strike, Mo Donegal was once behind the pack on the Derby, however the colt didn’t have sufficient kick at Churchill Downs. He discovered it Saturday, successful the 154th operating of the $1.5 million race.

It’s the fourth immediately 12 months the Triple Crown races had been received via 3 other horses, a primary for the game since 1926-29.

The race marked a go back to shape for Belmont itself after the 2020 Stakes had been closed to the general public because of the pandemic and the 2021 tournament was once restricted to 11,238 spectators via virus restrictions.

Capacity was once capped once more, this time at 50,000, on account of congestion considerations stemming from the newly constructed area subsequent door for the NHL’s New York Islanders. Still, enthusiasts filled into automobiles at the Long Island Rail Road and breathed existence into the 117-year-old monitor with floral headwear, pastel fits and the unmistakable musk of booze and cigars.

The stands weren’t just about as packed as when the grounds hosted a 120,139 enthusiasts in 2004. Not a lot of a wonder, given the shaky climate forecast and the loss of a Triple Crown contender.

The box was once sparse, too. No horse ran all 3 Triple Crown legs this 12 months, heightening fear that 3 races in 5 weeks could also be too tight a agenda to stay the horses wholesome.

Preakness winner Early Voting was once sidelined, more likely to get ready for the $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 27. Epicenter, the runner-up on the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, additionally skipped.

In the $500,000 Acorn for 3-year-old fillies, Matareya romped to a 6 1/4-length victory. Favorite Echo Zulu scratched on the submit at the recommendation of the monitor veterinarian.

Trained via Brad Cox and ridden via Flavien Prat, Matareya ($2.60) ran the mile in 1:35.77, successful for the 5th time in 8 occupation begins.

Heavily appreciated Flightline were given off a step gradual, overcame an early site visitors factor and cruised to a six-length victory within the $1 million Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan Mile.

The victory stored the 4-year-old Tapit colt undefeated in 4 occupation begins. This was once the primary one he didn’t win via double-digit lengths.

Flightline ($2.90) was once additionally ridden via Prat and educated via John Sadler.

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