Unleashing the ‘Mo’mentum: Favorite Mo Donegal Dominates the 154th Belmont Stakes

The Belmont Stakes: A Dream Come True for Mike Repole

For Mike Repole, the Belmont Stakes holds a special place in his heart. The New York entrepreneur often refers to it as “his Kentucky Derby” and has a deep love for the race. He has replayed the footage of his best finisher, Stay Thirsty, in the 2011 Belmont Stakes countless times. And now, Repole has a new race to replay over and over again – the one where his horse Mo Donegal triumphed, giving him his first ever Belmont Stakes victory.

A Lifelong Dream

Repole’s victory at the Belmont Stakes is the realization of a 40-year dream. Being a native New Yorker, this race holds a special significance for him. He reminisces about his second-place finish with Stay Thirsty in 2011, a moment he watched in replay 150 times. But now, with a first and second-place finish under his belt, he feels that his dream has been fulfilled. It was the biggest goal of his racing career, and he achieved it with the impressive 1-2 result.

Mo Donegal, the 5/2 favorite, delivered a thrilling come-from-behind victory. The horse paid out $7.20, $3.80, and $3 on a $2 wager. This marked the third consecutive year and fourth time in five years that the favorite prevailed at the Belmont Stakes. Nest, another horse owned by Repole, finished a respectable three lengths behind in second place.

The $2 exacta bet paid $27.60, while the $1 trifecta paid $187.50. It’s worth noting that in recent years, the $1 trifecta has consistently paid $312 or less, making this another occurrence within that trend.

Todd Pletcher’s Success at the Belmont Stakes

Trainer Todd Pletcher, a seasoned professional in the racing world, celebrated his fourth Belmont Stakes victory with Mo Donegal’s win. Pletcher’s last triumph at this prestigious race was in 2017 with Tapwrit. Notably, Mo Donegal was Pletcher’s first favorite to win the “Test of the Champion.” Nest’s runner-up finish also added to Pletcher’s impressive record, marking the seventh time one of his horses has finished second since 2006.

A Strategic Ride by Irad Ortiz Jr.

Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. expertly piloted Mo Donegal to victory with a textbook ride in the race. As expected, We the People took the lead early on and set a moderate pace. Mo Donegal, a closer by nature, patiently trailed behind. Meanwhile, Nest encountered some trouble at the start but managed to steadily advance along the rail on the backstretch, ultimately reaching third place around the turn.

Approaching the quarter-pole, Ortiz sent Mo Donegal on a wide route, bypassing the tiring pace-setter We the People and Skippylongstocking. Ortiz’s brother, Jose, closely followed Mo Donegal’s path, resulting in a remarkable 1-2 finish for the Ortiz brothers in the Belmont Stakes.

An Unfortunate Outcome for We the People and Rich Strike

Although We the People had an ideal setup, leading for much of the race, trainer Rodolphe Brisset believes the 1 ½-mile distance was ultimately too long for his colt. Despite setting the pace and running strong splits, We the People couldn’t maintain his lead and finished just behind the eventual winner.

Rich Strike, the 80/1 underdog and Derby winner, faced even more challenges. Trainer Eric Reed anticipated that if Rich Strike fell behind early in the race, he would struggle. Unfortunately, the fractious colt found himself at the back of the pack, and his energetic behavior on the way to the gate didn’t bode well for a successful race. Rich Strike finished a distant sixth, a disappointing result for a horse with such initial promise.

Mo Donegal’s Path to an Eclipse Award

Mo Donegal’s Belmont Stakes victory is the highlight of an impressive racing season. With this win, he secured his second victory of the year, building on his successful Grade 2 Wood Memorial performance. Mo Donegal’s achievement is notable, as he became the first horse since Empire Maker in 2003 to win both the Wood Memorial and the Belmont Stakes. With a record of 4-0-2 in seven races, Mo Donegal’s career earnings now stand at a commendable $1,511,800.

The Belmont Stakes Day and Racing Festival

The Belmont Stakes Day card attracted significant attention, with the all-sources handle totaling $98,766,906. While this figure represents a 12.3% decrease from the previous year, it remains a substantial amount. The specific handle for the Belmont Stakes itself reached $50,248,624, indicating a 10% decline compared to the previous year.

The three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, which included 17 stakes and 33 races, generated a total handle of $127,810,604. This demonstrates the appeal and excitement surrounding this prestigious event.

On-track handle for the Saturday card amounted to $9,530,303, although this was limited due to the current capacity restrictions at Belmont Park. With only 50,000 spectators allowed due to the construction of the nearby UBS Arena, the reported paid attendance reached 46,301.


The Belmont Stakes delivered an unforgettable day of racing, with Mike Repole realizing his lifelong dream of winning the race. Mo Donegal’s victory, skillfully guided by jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., showcased the beauty and excitement of this renowned event. Trainer Todd Pletcher celebrated his fourth Belmont Stakes win, cementing his reputation as a leading figure in the horse racing world.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many Belmont Stakes titles has Todd Pletcher won?

Todd Pletcher has won the Belmont Stakes title four times in his career. His most recent victory was in 2022 with Mo Donegal.

2. Who rode Mo Donegal to victory in the Belmont Stakes?

Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. piloted Mo Donegal to victory in the Belmont Stakes, delivering a well-executed ride and showcasing his exceptional skills.

3. What is the significance of Mo Donegal’s win in the Belmont Stakes?

Mo Donegal’s win in the Belmont Stakes is significant because he became the first horse since Empire Maker in 2003 to win both the Wood Memorial and the Belmont Stakes. This accomplishment highlights his exceptional talent and solidifies his position as a contender for an Eclipse Award.

4. How did the handle for the Belmont Stakes compare to previous years?

The handle for the Belmont Stakes experienced a 10% decline from the previous year. Despite this decrease, the all-sources handle for the Belmont Stakes Day card remained substantial at $50,248,624.

5. What is the future outlook for Mike Repole in horse racing?

Mike Repole’s victory in the Belmont Stakes has sparked hope for more success in his racing career. With his deep love for the sport and determination to achieve greatness, many anticipate continued achievements and victories for Repole in the future.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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