Mo Donegal’s win of the Belmont Stakes marks the fourth consecutive year that three different horses have won the Triple Crown races. Of course, we knew there would be no Triple Crown this year, as Derby winner, Rich Strike, chose to skip the Preakness. Mo Donegal also skipped the second race and came into the Belmont well rested.
For those who hoped that Rich Strike, who had been training well, would repeat his Derby winning performance, he finished a disappointing 6th. It’s important to remember that Belmont is a tough track and being paired with a jockey who has experience winning on ”Big Sandy” and it’s huge sweeping turns, is a real benefit. Leon had only two rides on the track before the Belmont — a maiden claiming race and a 6 furlong race, only half the distance of the Belmont Stakes.
”It’s like an ocean out there. It’s easy to get lost.”Gary Stevens, describing the Belmont Track
Following instructions from trainer Eric Reed, the jockey kept Rich Strike off the rail, in theory to position him better for his final run. Instead, the horse fought with his jockey and faded to sixth.
But let’s not take away from Mo Donegal’s win. The colt started the race as the favorite, and piloted by Irad Ortiz, Jr. had a perfect trip. He was never off the pace and he rallied to win by three lengths. Both Mo Donegal and second place finisher, the filly Nest, are owned by Mike Repole and trained by Todd Pletcher. That’s a pretty impressive finish!
This is my Derby,” said Repole. “This has been a dream that I’ve had for 40 years. This is the biggest goal I had in my racing life, and I just accomplished it, and I ran 1-2.Mike Repole, co-owner of Donegal Racing
As an added bonus for Irad Ortiz, Donegal racing has awarded a stallion season to the jockey. What that will be worth will depend on the colt’s future performance, but it’s a generous gift. Donegal Racing has had a similar policy in place for trainers for many years but recently extend the bonus to jockeys.