Donegal Racing and Repole Stable’s Mo Donegal, patiently handled by Irad Ortiz, Jr., staved off his filly stablemate Nest to capture Saturday’s 154th renewal of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.
The three-length victory marked the fourth Belmont Stakes win for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, following scores by filly Rags to Riches , Palace Malice , and Tapwrit .
“First of all, it’s our family’s favorite race. Our kids grew up here and went to school here and we’ve always felt like it’s our hometown race,” Pletcher said. “When we’re fortunate enough to win it, it adds some specialness to it. That hometown feel. That part of it is really cool. Also, just the mile and a half challenge is something we’ve been fortunate enough to do well at. It’s the ‘Test of the Champion,’ so to be fortunate enough to win it four times and with some five, six seconds with some pretty nasty beats, too, is very special. It’s been fun.”
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For Repole, who co-owns Grade 1-winning Nest with Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House, the victory provided redemption for the Queens, New York native’s Stay Thirsty, who finished a close second to Ruler On Ice in the 2011 Belmont Stakes.
“It’s a 40-year dream. Coming to this track and Aqueduct, being a kid from New York, this is New York’s race. In 2011, I came in second with Stay Thirsty and I watched the replay 150 times. I will no longer watch that replay,” Repole said. “Getting a first and second here, it makes up for it. This was the biggest goal of my racing life, and I just accomplished it and I ran 1-2.”
Mo Donegal is by the Repole/Pletcher campaigned Uncle Mo, who captured the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile en route to Champion 2-Year-Old Colt honors. Out of the Pulpit mare Callingmissbrown, Mo Donegal was purchased by Donegal Racing for $250,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
2022 Belmont Stakes Replay
“I want to thank all the partners of Donegal Racing. They’ve believed and today they’ve been rewarded,” said Jerry Crawford, owner of Donegal Racing. “I think this victory today shows that the sport is more accessible than they may realize. I can’t say enough for Todd Pletcher and Irad Ortiz, Jr. for the great job they’ve done with this horse. We were a little confident going into this race today and when he turned for home, I said ‘forget about it.’ I knew Todd thought he could get a strong last quarter mile, and he surely did.”
We the People took command under Flavien Prat and led the field of eight sophomores through splits of 23.99 seconds, 48.49 and 1:13.23 on the fast main track, with the Manny Franco-piloted longshot Skippylongstocking pressing from second position, while the upset Grade 1 Kentucky Derby-winner Rich Strike trailed last-of-eight under Sonny Leon.
Nest, who stumbled at the start, advanced up the rail down the backstretch to stalk from third position to the inside of Mo Donegal as Skippylongstocking continued to pester the pacesetter. Ortiz, Jr. gave Mo Donegal his cue approaching the quarter-pole and his charge advanced with a powerful move, surging outside rivals at the top of the lane and got the jump on Nest, who then angled outside and followed her stablemate’s path.
Mo Donegal vaulted past a game Skippylongstocking and a tiring We the People with three-sixteenths remaining, traveling confidently to the wire down the middle of the track to win by three lengths in a final time of 2:28.28. Nest completed the exacta by 3 1/4-lengths over Skippylongstocking with We the People, Creative Minister, Rich Strike, Barber Road and Golden Glider rounding out the order of finish.
Belmont Stakes Day Handle
Saturday’s blockbuster Belmont Stakes Day card, highlighted by Mo Donegal’s thrilling victory in the 154th running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets, generated all-sources handle of $98,766,906
On-track handle for the 13-race Belmont Stakes Day card, which included eight Grade 1 races among nine total stakes, was $9,530,303.
All-sources handle for the Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets, carded as Race 11, was $50,248,624.
The three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, which featured 17 stakes and 33 races in total from Thursday through Saturday, June 9-11, generated all-sources handle of $127,810,604.
The construction of UBS Arena, which opened its doors to the public in November, has significantly altered and reduced the size of the Belmont Park backyard. As a result of this change to the property, Belmont Park is currently operating at fan capacity of 50,000.
Paid attendance on Belmont Stakes Day was 46,301.