Mo Donegal won the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, adding more hardware to the trophy case of Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher and denying Rich Strike a second Triple Crown jewel.
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. piloted the Wood Memorial Stakes champ to the winner’s circle in Elmont, New York, giving Pletcher his fourth Belmont Stakes win.
"It was very special," Ortiz said.
He thanked the owner and trainer, saying, "They deserve it."
Mo Donegal, son of Uncle Mo, rallied from 19th position to a respectable fifth in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby.
Co-owner Jerry Crawford said the win proves owners don't have to spend "millions and millions" to field a winner. "The sport is more accessible to folks than they may realize," he said after the race.
The win was twice as sweet for co-owner Mike Repole, who enjoyed a one-two finish with Mo Donegal and the filly Nest. He called the first-place finish "a dream that I have had for 40 years" as a New Yorker at his local track.
We the People took the lead early, but Mo Donegal got in front for the final stretch and stayed there. Nest finished second, Skippylongstocking finished third, and We the People came in fourth. Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike finished 6th.
We the People was the bettors' favorite.
Nest is the daughter of Curlin, winner of the 2007 Preakness Stakes, 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic and 2008 Dubai World Cup.
Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike, who shocked the horse racing world by taking the Run for the Roses as an 80-1 long shot, didn't have the gas at Belmont Park Saturday.
Five weeks ago, the colt shocked the horse racing world by taking the Run for the Roses as an 80-1 long shot at Churchill Downs. Now jockey Sonny Leon and trainer Eric Reed have found the winner's circle again, this time in Elmont, New York, just outside of Queens.
Over the years, Belmont Park has served as backdrop to some of the sport's greatest moments as horses strive for a Triple Crown and potential spot in equine immorality.
But any drama about a potential Triple Crown champion was scuttled just after the Kentucky Derby when Rich Strike’s team announced that the colt wouldn’t run in the Preakness.
He instead focused all efforts on the Belmont Stakes, a race dubbed “The Test of Champions.” The grueling 1 ½-mile run is the longest of the three high-profile races for 3-year-old thoroughbreds.
Thirteen horses have won all three races of the Triple Crown: Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1920), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), Affirmed (1978), American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018).