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Belmont Stakes: Longshot Dornoch wins final jewel of Triple Crown

Dornoch

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — A colt won the Belmont for a former Phillie on Saturday.

Dornoch won the 156th Belmont Stakes, running to victory in the third and final jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown. It was a victory for a syndicate of owners, including former Philadelphia Phillies star Jayson Werth.

The 3-year-old colt, a 17-1 longshot, charged down the stretch to pass Mindframe and win at Saratoga Race Course, circling the 1 1/4-mile track in 2 minutes, 1.64 seconds.

Sierra Leone, the runner-up at the Kentucky Derby, finished third and Honor Marie was fourth.

Luis Saez won his second Belmont Stakes race, and Werth grabbed his first Triple Crown victory as a co-owner. Dornoch was trained by Danny Gargan.

“I would put this (win) right up there with anything else I’ve won,” said Werth, a 15-year MLB veteran who was part of the Philadelphia Phillies squad that won the 2008 World Series. He owns 10% of Dornoch, according to Fox News.

Dornoch, who also ran at the Kentucky Derby, broke well from the gate from the No. 6 spot and remained near the front of the pack along with Preakness Stakes winner Seize the Grey, according to CBS Sports. But while Seize the Grey faded at the top of the stretch, Dornoch continued to charge.

Mindframe also charged, but Saez was able to keep Dornoch in front to secure the victory.

“He’s one of the top 3-year-olds in the country, and we’ve always thought it,” Gargan said after the race. “We let him run his race and he won. If he gets to run, he’s always going to be tough to beat.

“When I rode this horse here in Saratoga for the first time (on July 29, 2023), I told Danny, ‘You have the (Kentucky) Derby winner,’” Saez said. “Unfortunately, the Derby’s a crazy race and we draw that No. 1 hole. Today, we have pretty good confidence that we could win this race.”

For the sixth consecutive year, a different horse won a Triple Crown race, CBS Sports reported.

The oldest race in horse racing’s Triple Crown moved north to Saratoga Race Course while Belmont Park is being renovated.

It was also the first race to feature a head-to-head matchup between the winners of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes -- Mystik Dan and Seize the Grey -- since 2013.

The length of Saturday’s race was shortened from Belmont’s traditional 1½-mile distance to 1 1/4 miles, the same length as the Kentucky Derby, NBC News reported. It was the seventh time the Belmont has been run at 10 furlongs, according to the Daily Racing Form. The length of the race was shortened because of the configuration of the track at Saratoga Race Course, USA Today reported.

Belmont Park’s 1 1/2-mile track is the largest horse racing oval in North America, according to NBC Sports.

If either wins on Saturday, Mystik Dan and Seize the Gray were gunning to become just the 53rd horse in history to win two legs of the Triple Crown.

It was the farthest north that the oldest race in horse racing’s Triple Crown has ventured. The earliest versions of the race, which began in 1867 at Jerome Park in what is now part of The Bronx, were held at various New York City venues until Belmont Park became the main locale in 1905.

Years ago, Pulitzer Prize-winning sportswriter Red Smith gave directions to Saratoga Springs in a cheeky column, The New York Times reported.

“You drive north for about 175 miles, turn left on Union Avenue and go back 100 years,” Smith wrote.

The move north was made because of a $455 million makeover and modernization of Belmont Park, the Times reported. Belmont Park, located in Elmont, New York, will reopen in 2026. Belmont Park was also closed due to structural defects from 1963 to 1967 and reopened the following year, according to the Daily Racing Form. The Belmont Stakes was held at nearby Aqueduct Race Track until Belmont Park reopened in 1968.

Sierra Leone, trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Flavien Prat, was an 8-5 favorite at post time. The 3-year-old won this year’s Blue Grass Stakes and Risen Star Stakes and finished second in a photo-finish at the Kentucky Derby. According to the Daily Racing Form, the last time the Kentucky Derby runner-up won the Belmont Stakes was in 2003, when Empire Maker denied Funny Cide the Triple Crown. Brown is familiar with Saratoga as he grew up in nearby Mechanicville.

Mystik Dan, who won the Kentucky Derby winner, went off at 5-1 odds. Trainer Kenny McPeek is aiming for his second career Belmont Stakes victory, having won in 2002 with Sarava in one of the biggest upsets in the race’s history.

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas was seeking his fifth career win in the Belmont Stakes (1994, 1995, 1996, 2000) and his 16th Triple Crown victory. Lukas, 88, became the oldest trainer to win a Triple Crown race when Seize the Grey took the Preakness Stakes two weeks ago.

Dornoch is owned by West Paces Racing, an Atlanta-based ownership group.

He competed in the Kentucky Derby earlier this year alongside his brother Society Man, also owned by West Paces Racing. Both horses were sired by Good Magic, the runner-up to the 2018 Kentucky Derby.

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