2024 Belmont Stakes Contenders & Odds

Horse Betting Online

Belmont Stakes Press Release
Updated: June 03, 2024

156th Belmont Stakes at Saratoga | Saturday, June 8

Highlighted by the 156th edition of the Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 8, the four-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will include 24 stakes races with purses totaling $10.25 million, the highest purse levels and number of stakes offered since the launch of the multi-day Festival in 2014.

Mystik Dan, who was a nose better than returning rival Sierra Leone in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, will look to pick up his second Triple Crown event in Saturday's 156th running of the Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes, at Saratoga Race Course.

A blockbuster Belmont Stakes Day at Saratoga awaits with a program to include six Grade 1 events among nine graded stakes races in total, topped by the Belmont Stakes and featuring three Breeders' Cup "Win And You're In" qualifiers: the Grade 1, $1 million Hill 'N' Dale Metropolitan Handicap for 3-year-olds and up going one mile out of the Wilson Chute [Dirt Mile]; the Grade 1, $500,000 Ogden Phipps presented by Ford for older fillies and mares [Distaff]; and the Grade 1, $500,000 Jaipur presented by Resolute Racing for 3-year-olds and up [Turf Sprint].

The Belmont Stakes is slated as Race 12 on the 14-race card with a post time of 6:41 p.m. Eastern. First post is 10:45 a.m. Admission gates will open to the public at 9 a.m.

2024 Belmont Stakes Field & Odds

Race 12 at Saratoga on Saturday, June 8 - Post 6:41 PM

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Seize the Grey 8-1 Jaime Torres
126 Lbs
D. Lukas
2 Resilience 10-1 Junior Alvarado
126 Lbs
William Mott
3 Mystik Dan 5-1 Brian Hernandez, Jr.
126 Lbs
Kenneth McPeek
4 The Wine Steward 15-1 Manuel Franco
126 Lbs
Michael Maker
5 Antiquarian 12-1 John Velazquez
126 Lbs
Todd Pletcher
6 Dornoch 15-1 Luis Saez
126 Lbs
Danny Gargan
7 Protective 20-1 Tyler Gaffalione
126 Lbs
Todd Pletcher
8 Honor Marie 12-1 Florent Geroux
126 Lbs
D. Whitworth Beckman
9 Sierra Leone 9-5 Flavien Prat
126 Lbs
Chad Brown
10 Mindframe 7-2 Irad Ortiz, Jr.
126 Lbs
Todd Pletcher

The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival is being held at Saratoga for the first time to allow for the uninterrupted construction of a new Belmont Park. Due to the configuration of Saratoga's main track, the 2024 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets will be contested at 1 1/4-miles rather than the traditional 1 1/2-miles.

Lance Gasaway, 4 G Racing, Daniel Hamby, III and Valley View Farm's Grade 1 Kentucky Derby-winner Mystik Dan [post 3, Brian Hernandez, Jr., 5-1 ML] will become the only horse to race in all three legs of the Triple Crown this year. He raced his way into the history books with a dramatic rail-skimming score in the Kentucky Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs.

Trained by Ken McPeek and expertly piloted by Brian Hernandez, Jr., the Goldencents colt exited post 3-of-20 in the 'Run for the Roses' and saved ground from sixth position in the early running. Mystik Dan advanced in the final turn and bravely slipped through the narrowest of openings nearing the quarter-pole to take command and stay on strong to the wire to secure the nose win over Sierra Leone, who outdueled the game Group 2 UAE Derby-winner Forever Young to earn place honors by a nose as part of a thrilling three-way photo.

McPeek credits Hernandez, Jr. for engineering an incredible trip when a matter of inches decided the Derby.

"He's been doing that for me for years," McPeek said. "I don't question it when he's out there and I don't worry when it doesn't go right. He's ultra-consistent and he's not scared to go inside. Any tactic he takes, I trust it. As a relationship between jockey and trainer, it's the best one I've ever had.

"He gets a horse to travel very well underneath him and they're very efficient when he's on them, so the way they move across the ground and how a rider gets a horse to flow in the middle of the race can be more important than the finish," added McPeek, who completed a long-awaited personal Triple Crown with Mystik Dan after winning the Belmont Stakes in 2002 with Sarava - who, at 70-1, denied War Emblem a Triple Crown - and the Grade 1 Preakness in 2020 with filly Swiss Skydiver. "Brian gets the horse very comfortable, and he has very soft hands. He never checks a horse, ever, unless somebody takes him out, so there's never any lost motion."

Mystik Dan, an 18-1 winner of the Kentucky Derby, went to post as the mutuel favorite two weeks later in the Grade 1 Preakness, the second jewel of the Triple Crown contested at 1 3/16-miles over muddy and sealed footing at Pimlico Race Course.

Hernandez, Jr. rated his colt in fourth position through the opening half-mile as Seize the Grey dictated terms. Mystik Dan improved his position down the backstretch and through the turn, but drifted in slightly at the top of the lane before correcting and putting in a strong bid that was rebuffed by the determined Seize the Grey.

Mystik Dan graduated at second asking in a 5 1/2-furlong sprint in November at Churchill Downs and returned to the winner's circle in February with an eight-length romp over muddy and sealed going in the Grade 3 Southwest at Oaklawn Park. He was a late-closing third in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby in March ahead of his Derby coup.

Bred in Kentucky by Gasaway, Hamby and 4 G Racing, Mystik Dan is out of the winning Colonel John mare Ma'am. He has banked more than $4.1 million in purse earnings through an 8-3-2-1 record.

Peter M. Brant, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Westerberg, and Brook T. Smith's Sierra Leone [post 9, Flavien Prat, 9-5ML] is two noses shy of a perfect 5-for-5 record.

Trained by four-time Eclipse Award-winner Chad Brown, the regally-bred Gun Runner colt made his first two starts at Aqueduct Racetrack with a first-out win in November and a narrow defeat in December to returning rival Dornoch in the Grade 2 Remsen after lugging in down the lane.

Sierra Leone added blinkers and was perfect through his first two starts this year, closing from deep to take the Grade 2 Risen Star over sloppy and sealed footing in February at Fair Grounds and the Grade 1 Blue Grass in April at Keeneland.

The $2.3 million Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale purchase, out of the Grade 1-winning Malibu Moon mare Heavenly Love, exited post 2-of-20 under Tyler Gaffalione in the Kentucky Derby and after saving ground early, rallied wide down the lane, bumping with Forever Young from the three-sixteenths to the furlong grounds. Sierra Leone and Forever Young, who share the same second dam in the multiple graded stakes-placed Darling My Darling, brushed to the wire with only a nose between them - but also a further nose back of the victorious Mystik Dan.

Brown remains level-headed about the narrow defeat.

"You have no choice but to move forward," said Brown, whose best previous Belmont Stakes result is a runner-up effort in 2018 with Gronkowski. "It's not something I think about every day, but that's horse racing. I've been on both ends of it and it just so happens that it was the biggest race in this country. It's a tough thing to lose the Kentucky Derby by a nose, but hopefully he can redeem himself in this race and I'm just so grateful I have the horse.

"He ran a super race and never let us down in terms of not showing up in the race. He's always fired," Brown added. "Has he gotten in his own way a couple times that prevented him from being undefeated? Probably, but he has so much raw ability that you take the good with the bad-and there's a lot more good. I'm more or less managing him to try to make him Champion 3-Year-Old - picking the right races and giving him the rest that would be most beneficial to him."

While the Derby winner continued to the Preakness, Sierra Leone, bred in Kentucky by Debby Oxley, has trained locally over the Oklahoma dirt training track with a new cage bit and on Saturday will have the services of a new rider in Flavien Prat.

"I think the left stick would have done him a world of good on the turn in the Derby, but that's hindsight, now," Brown said. "Nevertheless, I decided, for insurance, to have something on him to provide more power-steering. With horses, sometimes you try something when they're younger and it doesn't seem to move the needle much, but you try something when they're more mature-it could be equipment or the ground they run on or a track they don't like-and it does."

Sierra Leone has collected more than $1.9 million in purse earnings through a 5-3-2-0 ledger.

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has won 15 Triple Crown events, including scores in the Belmont Stakes with Tabasco Cat [1994], Thunder Gulch [1995], Editor's Note [1996] and Commendable [2000]. He will look to add a fifth Belmont with the horse that provided him a seventh Preakness win in MyRacehorse's Seize the Grey [post 1, Jaime Torres, 8-1ML].

The talented gray colt is by Hall of Famer Arrogate, who sired last year's Belmont Stakes-winner Arcangelo. A $300,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale purchase, Seize the Grey graduated at second asking with then-apprentice jockey Jaime Torres aboard in July at the Spa with a 1 3/4-length score over Dornoch.

Seize the Grey finished third in the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks in March at Turfway Park and was off-the-board in the Grade 1 Blue Grass, leading the colt to the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard. There, he was reunited with Torres, who guided Seize the Grey to a stalk-and-pounce score over the multiple graded stakes-placed Nash to provide both horse and rider their first graded win.

Greyhound Betting

Torres and Seize the Grey continued their good form together in the Preakness, gaining the front with ease and making every pole a winning one to earn a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure.

Lukas lauded his charge's versatility in being able to compete on Derby Day as well as in the Preakness, as he mirrors the race spacing of Mystik Dan.

"He's not one-dimensional," Lukas said. "I told Jaime Torres before the Preakness - I gave him two things to think about - if you break sharp and they let you have the pace, then just take it. Don't get creative and try to be cute. Just let him do his thing. If they go with you - Baffert [Imagination] and one other horse or two break, take him back and lay comfortably in the 3-or-4 spot and get him in a better position to run at the quarter-pole.

"That's all you got to do - you either make a decision off the break to go or you make a decision to settle off it," continued Lukas. "That's what this horse can do. He is definitely not one-dimensional. He'll rate very kindly. Now, at a mile and a quarter, again the early fractions are probably going to be a little slower. He could end up on the lead again."

Seize the Grey, an earner of more than $1.8 million from a 10-4-0-3 record, is out of the stakes-placed Smart Strike mare Smart Shopping, who is a half-sister to dual graded stakes-winner Power Broker and stakes-winner Fierce Boots.

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will have three chances to win his fifth Belmont Stakes when he saddles Grade 3 Peter Pan-winner Antiquarian [post 5, John Velazquez, 12-1 ML], the undefeated Mindframe [post 10, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 7-2 ML] and promising maiden Protective [post 7, Tyler Gaffalione, 20-1 ML]. He decided last week that Champion 2-Year-Old Colt Fierceness would require more time after finishing 15th in the Kentucky Derby.

Last year, Arcangelo won the Peter Pan en route to Grade 1 victories in the Belmont Stakes and the Spa's Travers to secure year-end honors as Champion 3-Year-Old Colt. Now, Centennial Farms' Antiquarian will look to join Arcangelo, Counterpoint [1951], High Gun [1954], Gallant Man [1957], Cavan [1958], Coastal [1979], Danzig Connection [1986], A.P. Indy [1992] and Tonalist [2014] as Peter Pan winners to subsequently score in the Belmont Stakes.

"We're excited about it," said Pletcher, whose past Belmont Stakes successes include Rags to Riches [2007], Palace Malice [2013], Tapwrit [2017] and Mo Donegal [2022]. "It's always great to come into these kinds of races with horses who are doing really well. Hopefully, we have enough talent to be competitive."

Antiquarian, by the Centennial Farms campaigned Preservationist, graduated at second asking on February 17 at Fair Grounds travelling 1 1/16-miles over sloppy and sealed footing when one length the best over next-out winner Cornishman.

He followed at the same track with a troubled effort in the 1 3/16-mile Grade 2 Louisiana Derby where he broke through the gate before the start and was re-loaded. After exiting post 2-of-11 under returning Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez, Antiquarian was subsequently squeezed and had to travel wide at the three-eighths en route to a sixth-place finish defeated four lengths by the victorious Catching Freedom.

Despite being bumped at the break in the Peter Pan, Antiquarian was in the clear throughout from post 4 and dueled gamely in the three-path to the outside of returning foe The Wine Steward to win by three-quarter lengths. It was a further 1 1/4-lengths back to Protective in third.

Antiquarian worked a half-mile in company with Grade 1-placed Be You - who is entered in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Woody Stephens presented by Mohegan Sun - on Sunday in 49.99 over the Oklahoma dirt training track.

"I liked the way Antiquarian finished, and I really like the way he galloped out. I'm excited about giving him the opportunity to run a mile and a quarter," Pletcher said.

Centennial Farms won the 1993 Belmont Stakes with Colonial Affair for Hall of Fame trainer Scotty Schulhofer. Colonial Affair was ridden to victory by future Hall of Famer Julie Krone, who became the first female jockey to win a Triple Crown race.

Bred in Kentucky by Brereton C. Jones, Antiquarian, a $250,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, is out of the winning Istan mare Lifetime Memory, who is a half-sister to graded stakes-winner Speaktomeofsummer and stakes-winner Proud Reunion.

Repole Stable and St. Elias Stables' Mindframe, a $600,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, is perfect through two starts which he was won by a combined 21 1/4-lengths.

By Constitution, who sired the New York-bred 2020 Belmont Stakes-winner Tiz the Law, Mindframe romped to a 13 3/4-length debut stalk-and-pounce score sprinting seven furlongs on March 30 at Gulfstream Park that garnered a field-best 103 Beyer Speed Figure.

He returned on the Kentucky Derby undercard and made every pole a winning one when stretched out to 1 1/16-miles on good footing where he was ridden out a 7 1/2-length winner over Cornishman.

"He's been super-impressive in his two races and the way he's done that and how easily he's won those races, how fast those races have been - it gives you the confidence he has the talent," Pletcher said. "The question mark is if he has the experience and the seasoning. Obviously, he's giving up some experience to some really good horses, so that's the concern. I think, from a talent perspective, he has enough talent to compete with this field, but he doesn't have the foundation and the experience that most of the ones in here do."

Bred by R. Larry Johnson, Mindframe is out of the stakes-winning Street Sense mare Walk of Stars, who is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes-placed Strike the Moon. Mindframe will look to become the third Maryland-bred winner following Cloverbrook [1877] and Caveat [1983].

Repole Stable's four-start maiden Protective has made his last two starts in third-place finishes traveling nine-furlongs at the Big A when closing from 11th-of-12 to complete the trifecta in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino in April and tracking from fourth to improve one position last out in the Grade 3 Peter Pan.

"I think he'll appreciate the mile and a quarter. He's run well in two big races and hopefully he keeps moving forward," Pletcher said.

The Medaglia d'Oro colt, a $250,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, is out of the multiple graded stakes-winning Empire Maker mare Grace Hall, who won the 2011 Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga. He was bred in Kentucky by Alpha Delta Stables.

Emily Bushnell and Ric Waldman's Resilience [post 2, Junior Alvarado, 10-1 ML] was the last horse to be confirmed for the Belmont Stakes field following an impressive half-mile breeze in 48 flat Sunday in company with Billal over Saratoga's Oklahoma dirt training track.

"It was very, very good. The time was good and he did it the right way," said Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. "We intentionally wanted him to go out a bit around the turn after the work, which he did. I had him out in 1:01 and 1:14."

The Into Mischief colt made the grade with a 2 1/4-length score over Society Man in the nine-furlong Wood Memorial to earn his way into the Kentucky Derby.

Resilience exited post 18-of-20 in the Derby and pounced from 5 1/4 lengths off the pace to be a half-length off the lead at the three-quarters call, but faded in the stretch to finish sixth, 7 3/4 lengths back of Mystik Dan.

"He came off the turn and looked like a winner. Of course, they got to the eighth pole and he didn't finish it off," said Mott, who won the 2010 Belmont Stakes with Drosselmeyer.

The talented Resilience is the result of nearly three decades of dedication and hard work by Bushnell and her parents, Pam and the late Marty Wygod, who bred Resilience and his dam, Meadowsweet.

By Smart Strike, Meadowsweet, is a half-sister to the Grade 1 and multiple graded stakes-winning Storm Cat turfers Courageous Cat and After Market - all three are out of the multiple Grade 1-winning Rahy mare Tranquility Lake. Jalil, a Group 2-winner on dirt, is also by Storm Cat and out of Tranquility Lake.

Mott said the well-bred horse deserves a second chance at the Classic distance.

"The more we thought about it we see some benefit in running," Mott said. "We questioned the distance in the Derby, and maybe I was correct. But to double-check ourselves and know what we want to do in the future with the Travers being here, I think maybe there's more to gain by running - win, lose or draw - than by not running. So, I think we maybe answer some questions. The future is always important for any horse like that with a stallion pedigree. I think we need to try it one more time and find out."

West Paces Racing, R. A. Hill Stable, Belmar Racing and Breeding, Two Eight Racing and Pine Racing Stables' dual graded stakes-winner Dornoch [post 6, Luis Saez, 15-1 ML] will look to give trainer Danny Gargan his first win in a Triple Crown event.

By Good Magic and out of the graded stakes-placed Big Brown mare Puca, Dornoch is a full brother to last year's Kentucky Derby-winner Mage. The $325,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase put together a three-race win streak, beginning with a third-out frontrunning graduation in October at Keeneland ahead of his gritty Remsen win, where he skimmed the rail and relinquished the lead to Sierra Leone before battling back to take the spoils.

He followed with a gate-to-wire score in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth in March at Gulfstream Park, but has been off the board in two starts since when fourth in the Blue Grass and 10th in the Kentucky Derby after exiting the inside post and enduring a troubled trip when shuffled back and checked.

Gargan remains confident his horse has the talent to bounce back, while acknowledging the talented morning-line favorite.

"Sierra Leone shows up every time. If he shows up we're all in trouble unless he does something to get himself beat," Gargan said. "I'm one of the few that has beat him - there's two of us in the race that have beat him and if we could run our race and beat him one more time this would be a great time to do it."

Dornoch, bred in Kentucky by Grandview Equine, has banked $552,275 through a 7-3-2-0 ledger.

Ribble Farms, Michael Eiserman, Earl Silver, Kenneth Fishbein, and Dave Fishbein's Honor Marie [post 8, Florent Geroux, 12-1 ML] arrives from a difficult outing when eighth in the Kentucky Derby.

Trained by former Pletcher and Brown-assistant Whit Beckman and piloted in the Derby by the now-injured Ben Curtis, the Honor Code colt was last-of-20 in the early running after being steadied into the first turn, but improved his position while saving ground down the backstretch and responded well when produced in the lane.

The $40,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase captured the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club to close out a 2-for-3 juvenile campaign and closed well in a pair of Grade 2 starts at Fair Grounds to commence his sophomore season when fifth in the Risen Star and second to Catching Freedom in the Louisiana Derby.

Beckman said he's hoping for a cleaner trip this time around.

"The more speed and the more pace plays to his running style. He's one that wants to close," Beckman said. "I don't want to see him as far back as he was in the Derby or even the Louisiana Derby. If we can change that a little bit and have a better spot going into that first turn, I think it would be a good thing for him."

Beckman is hopeful that having Florent Geroux in the irons for the first time in the afternoon will be beneficial.

"Flo has actually breezed this horse prior to the Risen Star, Louisiana Derby, the Kentucky Derby and this," Beckman said. "He's always been that guy we were hoping Brad [Cox] didn't have one for and now that he's open it's a good chance to do what he's been doing in the morning in the afternoon. He gets along with this horse so well. The way Flo and this horse communicate when I watch them work and the way this horse responds to him, I think it's a great match."

Bred in Kentucky by Royce Pulliam, Honor Marie has earned $526,175 through a 6-2-2-0 record.

Paradise Farms Corp. and David Staudacher's Grade 1-placed The Wine Steward [post 4, Manny Franco, 15-1 ML] will look to join Tiz the Law [2020], Forester [1882], Fenian [1869] and Ruthless [1867] as New York-bred winners of the Belmont Stakes.

Trained by Mike Maker, the son of 2019 Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic-winner Vino Rosso won his first three starts, graduating last May at Belmont ahead of stakes wins in the Bashford Manor in July at Ellis Park and the Spa's state-bred Funny Cide presented by Rood and Riddle in August.

The Wine Steward made his next three outings with close runner-up efforts in graded company, missing by a half-length to Locked in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity in October at Keeneland and by three-quarter lengths to Encino in the Grade 3 Lexington in April at Keeneland. He was last seen landing three-quarter lengths back of Antiquarian in the Grade 3 Peter Pan.

"If there's was more of an honest pace last time, he would have appreciated it and maybe would have won it," Maker said of the Peter Pan effort. "We will hope for better luck this time. The owners have been very supportive of me and of New York. It would be great to win for [them]."

Bred in the Empire State by Sequel Thoroughbreds, Lakland Farm and Mark Toothaker, the $340,000 OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training purchase is out of the To Honor and Serve mare Call to Service, a half-sister to graded stakes-winners Isotherm and Giant Game. He has banked $467,260 through a 6-3-3-0 record.

The prestigious and historic Grade 1 races on Belmont Stakes Day will also include the $1 million Resorts World Casino Manhattan at 1 3/16-miles on turf for older horses, and the seven-furlong $500,000 Woody Stephens presented by Mohegan Sun for sophomores. A lucrative card also offers the Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban at 10 furlongs for older horses, the Grade 2, $350,000 True North presented by F.W. Webb at 6 1/2-furlongs for older horses and the Grade 3, $350,000 Poker for 4-year-olds and up at one-mile on turf.

Belmont Stakes Pre-Draw News

Resilience under consideration for Belmont Stakes

May 31 - Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott said Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino-winner Resilience is possible to make his next start in the Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes on June 8 at Saratoga Race Course.

Owned by Emily Bushnell and Ric Waldman, the Into Mischief colt made the grade with a 2 1/4-length score over Society Man in the nine-furlong Wood Memorial to earn his way into the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs.

Mott said he will make a final decision after Resilience works this weekend at Saratoga.

"We've got some discussions to have with the owners but we're giving it strong consideration," Mott said. "We're going to work on the weekend and once he breezes we'll know what we're going to do."

Resilience exited post 18-of-20 in the Derby and pounced from 5 1/4 lengths off the pace to be a half-length off the lead at the three-quarters call, but faded in the stretch and was defeated 7 3/4 lengths by the victorious Mystik Dan.

Mott said he was pleased with the way Resilience worked back a half-mile Monday over the Oklahoma training track in 50.45 seconds.

"We're considering running, so he's doing good. He's doing real well," Mott said.

Bred in Kentucky by Pam Wygod and the late Marty Wygod, Resilience is out of the winning Smart Strike mare Meadowsweet, who is a half-sister to the Grade 1 and multiple graded stakes-winning Storm Cat turfers Courageous Cat and After Market - all three are out of the multiple Grade 1-winning Rahy mare Tranquility Lake. Jalil, a Group 2-winner on dirt, is also by Storm Cat and out of Tranquility Lake.

Mott watched George Krikorian's multiple Grade 1-winner War Like Goddess work a half-mile in 50.65 Friday over the Oklahoma dirt training track in preparation for the Grade 1, $750,000 New York, a 1 3/16-mile turf test for older fillies and mares on June 7 here.

"I was happy with her work this morning," Mott said.

Mott also said he was pleased with Krikorian's Kentucky homebred Just F Y I, the reigning Champion 2-Year-Old Filly, who went a bullet five-eighths in 1:01.20 over the Oklahoma training track in preparation for the Grade 1, $500,000 DK Horse Acorn, a nine-furlong route for sophomore fillies on June 7 Day Two of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.

Maker Trained 'The Wine Steward' Possible for Belmont Stakes

May 26 - Grade 1-placed New York-bred The Wine Steward is under consideration for both the 10-furlong Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets and the seven-furlong Grade 1, $500,000 Woody Stephens presented by Mohegan Sun, both slated for Saturday, June 8 at Saratoga Race Course.

Trained by Mike Maker, the son of 2019 Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic-winner Vino Rosso was last seen finishing a close second to Belmont Stakes contender Antiquarian in the Grade 3 Peter Pan on May 11 at Belmont at the Big A.

The Wine Steward has finished second in each of his last three outings, including in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders' Futurity in October at Keeneland, and in the Grade 3 Lexington to kick off his sophomore campaign in April over the same course.

The Wine Steward had his first work since the Peter Pan yesterday at Churchill Downs, covering a half-mile in 48 seconds flat.

"I was there and he worked pretty easy and looked good," said Staudacher. "Mike is going to have to decide on which race in the next week or so. We're still undecided. He had a couple tough races, so we've got to make sure he bounces back right."

The Wine Steward graduated on debut sprinting five furlongs last May at Belmont Park ahead of an open-company stakes win in the six-furlong Bashford Manor at Ellis Park. He followed with a head triumph over multiple graded stakes-placed El Grande O in the state-bred Funny Cide presented by Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital sprinting six furlongs at Saratoga en route to his two-turn debut in the 1 1/16-mile Breeders' Futurity.

"It depends on the trip, but I think he can get it [the distance] - he's bred to get it and should be able to," Staudacher said regarding the 10-furlong Belmont Stakes distance. "I think he likes the track up there, so we'll see what Mike decides to do. We just have to see how the horse is doing. He's a really nice horse and we don't want to rush him. We'd love to be in the Belmont, so we have our fingers crossed."

In addition to The Wine Steward, Paradise Farms Corp. and Staudacher are also considering graded stakes-winner Sugoi and graded stakes-placed Really Good for either the 1 3/16-mile Grade 1, $1 million Resorts World Casino Manhattan or the two-mile Grade 2, $250,000 Belmont Gold Cup, which will be a 'Golden Ticket' event offering the winner an automatic berth into the Group 1, AUD$8.4 million Lexus Melbourne Cup.

"It will just depend on who goes where," said Staudacher.

Antiquarian and Fierceness Head Four Belmont Stakes Probables for Pletcher

May 24 - Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher holds a strong hand for the Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes with as many as four possible contenders topped by Antiquarian and Fierceness and as well as the undefeated Mindframe, who were all on the work tab Friday morning.

Pletcher, who could also be represented in the Belmont Stakes by the talented maiden Protective, has previously won the 'Test of the Champion' with Rags to Riches [2007], Palace Malice [2013], Tapwrit [2017] and Mo Donegal [2022].

Repole Stable's Kentucky homebred Fierceness returned to the work tab for the first time since an off-the-board finish in the 2024 Kentucky Derby (Grade 1) on May 4, covering a half-mile in company with Mindframe Friday over Saratoga Race Course's Oklahoma dirt training track.

Champion 2-Year-Old Colt Fierceness is targeting a start in the Belmont Stakes on June 8 at Saratoga, while Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable's Mindframe is possible for either the Belmont or a start at Monmouth Park in the 1 1/16-mile Listed $150,000 Pegasus on June 15, the local prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell traveling nine furlongs on July 20.

"We haven't decided yet. The Belmont is in play, the Pegasus is in play," Pletcher said regarding Mindframe. "We'll just survey how the race is shaping up and talk to the ownership and see what they want to do."

The pair were the first of Pletcher's set to go out after the first renovation break at 7:30, and jogged up to mid-stretch before turning back to assume position for their work. The two remained together throughout with Fierceness on the outside as NYRA clockers caught them in splits of 13 2/5 seconds, 25 3/5 and 50 flat for the half-mile before galloping out in 1:02 2/5, 1:14 3/5 and 1:28 2/5 over the fast footing.

Horse Racing Rebates

Pletcher said he liked what he saw from both Fierceness and Mindframe, the latter of which is undefeated through two starts.

"I thought it was a very good work from both horses. They seemed to be doing it well in hand coming to the wire," said Pletcher. "We kind of let Mindframe do a little more in the gallop out than Fierceness - he had a work last week, and he's more lightly raced. I was very pleased with both horses. It seemed like Fierceness was moving really well and did it easily."

Fierceness, who notched Grade 1 wins in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Florida Derby, was the post-time favorite for the Kentucky Derby after his 13 1/2-length romp in the latter, but hopped at the start under Hall of Famer John Velazquez and failed to threaten when three-wide into the stretch, finishing well behind the victorious Mystik Dan.

"I think if you look at it, the one thing he did - which he has done in the three races he's lost - is he kind of hopped a little bit at the start and didn't get away as cleanly," said Pletcher. "Johnny thought maybe the horse overreacted to him asking him to get into the race, and at that point he thought he got a little keen with him."

Pletcher said he opted to give the City of Light bay an extra week of rest after the Derby considering he does not need to condition for additional ground in this year's 10-furlong Belmont Stakes.

"I thought after the Derby, we shipped back here, and he was a little quiet for a few days," said Pletcher. "It took him a little while to get back in the feed tub, and I started looking at it and said, 'You know what, I think two works is good enough.' He looks super fit and is coming off a mile and a quarter race. Maybe if it was at Belmont and a mile and a half, I might have breezed him last week, but I thought I could give him the extra week and not worry about it."

Pletcher added he is pleased with Fierceness' energy level as of late.

"His gallops have been good and a couple mornings ago, he put in a big buck in the middle of the turn," said Pletcher. "He's such a quiet horse, sometimes you're not 100 percent sure where you are with him because he's so laid back and cool all the time. He's such an easy horse to train."

Antiquarian (Centennial Farms) completed his first timed work since a stalk-and-pounce score to capture the Grade 3 Peter Pan by three-quarters of a length on May 11 at Belmont at the Big A. Piloted by Irad Ortiz, Jr. for the breeze, he worked in company with Candied, who had exercise rider Hector Ramos aboard as she prepares for the Grade 1, $500,000 DK Horse Acorn on June 7 at Saratoga Race Course.

NYRA clockers had the pair completing a half-mile in 48.65 seconds over the Belmont Park dirt training track.

"It was pretty even the whole way. I got them in 12 and 1, 24 and 3, 48 and 3, galloped out 1:01," said Pletcher's New York-based assistant Amelia Green. "It was a strong gallop out, 1:13 and 1. An eased down 1:26 and 4. Honestly, he did it very impressively on this track.

"I'd say the track is a little faster today than it has been all week, but the way he did it was the main thing, which was well within himself," Green added.

Antiquarian, who is by the Centennial Farms-campaigned Preservationist, entered the Peter Pan from a sixth in the 1 3/16-mile Grade 2 Louisiana Derby after breaking through the gate on March 23 at Fair Grounds. Prior to that effort, the chestnut graduated at second asking going 1 1/16 miles there over next-out winner Cornishman.

"Obviously, he is a colt, and she is a filly," said Green regarding the work partners. "So, it is hard to judge them against each other, but she did it nicely, too."

Pletcher said he was pleased with the good report from Green.

"Amelia said he worked really well, strong gallop out," said Pletcher. "She said Irad was raving about how well he went. I'm happy with that. The plan is to ship here tomorrow."

Centennial Farms looks to add another Belmont Stakes to its historic resume that features Colonial Affair capturing the 'Test of the Champion' in 1993.

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Candied was on target for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 3, but did not draw in after being listed as an also-eligible. The daughter of Candy Ride, who has recovered from a bruised quarter, now set her sights on the Grade 1, $500,000 DK Horse Acorn.

"Candied has been doing well and that was a good work from her also," said Pletcher. "We were disappointed we didn't draw into the Oaks, but we'll regroup and try this."

Candied graduated on debut in August at Saratoga and followed with a score in the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades in October at Keeneland before completing her juvenile campaign with a rallying third-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in November at Santa Anita.

Horse Racing Rebates

She made her seasonal debut last out on April 5 at Keeneland with a fourth-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 1 Ashland after exiting the inside post in a field of eight.

"It was a little bit of a layoff and the inside post - I thought she ran well considering everything," Pletcher said. "I think she should appreciate the added distance."

Repole Stable's maiden Protective has made his last two starts in graded events traveling nine furlongs at the Big A, finishing third in both the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino on April 6 and the Grade 3 Peter Pan on May 11.

The Medaglia d'Oro colt, a $250,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, endured a troubled trip in the Wood Memorial when bumped at the break and taken up. He was full of run down the lane when Deposition fell to his outside while trying to split rivals to the inside of Uncle Heavy. Despite the troubled trip, Protective finished strong to earn show honors 3 3/4-lengths back of the victorious Resilience.

Last out, a more prominent Protective tracked from fourth position and stayed on strong to complete the trifecta two lengths back of his victorious stablemate Antiquarian, who was a three-quarter length winner over The Wine Steward.

NYRA will waive the entry and starting fees to the Belmont Stakes, excluding the supplemental fee, for the first three finishers of the Peter Pan.

Protective, out of the Grade 1-winning Empire Maker mare Grace Hall, had his first work back Wednesday, covering a half-mile in 48.68 over the Belmont dirt training track.

"He breezed very well and he's doing well," Pletcher said. "We're not committed to the Belmont, but we're not ruling it out either. We will assess how he's doing and how the field is shaping up and make a decision on entry day."

Kentucky Derby-winner Mystik Dan settles in at Saratoga

May 22 - Grade 1 Kentucky Derby-winner Mystik Dan arrived at Saratoga Race Course Monday evening and ventured out onto the Oklahoma training track early Wednesday for his first bit of light exercise since finishing second in the 2024 Preakness.

"He's doing good," said trainer Kenny McPeek. "He just jogged a mile this morning, nothing complicated."

Mystik Dan was a narrow winner of the Kentucky Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs, staving off late bids from Forever Young and Sierra Leone to post a nose victory in a thrilling three-way photo finish. He followed two weeks later with a runner-up effort to the D. Wayne Lukas-trained pacesetter Seize the Grey in the Preakness, where he was defeated 2 1/4 lengths after stalking four lengths off the pace.

"Wayne's horse got off to an got an easy lead, and maybe we could have chased him, but if we had, we might not have run as well as we did," said McPeek.

McPeek added he will take his time in deciding if Mystik Dan will participate in the Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes on June 8 at Saratoga.

"We are undecided on what we're going to do. We'll take it as it comes and get him into a routine here," said McPeek. "Hopefully, the weather cools off."

McPeek completed a historic double on the first weekend in May as he also saddled Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks-winner Thorpedo Anna. The Fast Anna dark bay was a pressured pacesetter early in the nine-furlong test, but shook clear of her rivals in the far turn and drew off impressively to win by 4 3/4 lengths.

Owned by Brookdale Racing, Mark Edwards, Judy Hicks and Magdalena Racing, Thorpedo Anna has worked twice since the Oaks, and covered a sharp half-mile this morning at Churchill Downs where clockers caught her in 46.20 seconds.

"She breezed wicked fast," said McPeek. "My assistant said he caught her in 47 and two [fifths]. She'll come to Saratoga tomorrow and we'll get her into a routine, too."

As with Mystik Dan, McPeek has not made any decisions on where Thorpedo Anna will race next. Her two options are the Grade 1, $500,000 Acorn against fillies on June 7, or a try against males in the Belmont Stakes.

Dornoch looks to G1 Belmont Stakes

May 22 - Dual graded stakes-winner Dornoch is preparing at Saratoga Race Course for a likely start in the Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes on June 8.

"He loves it here," said trainer Danny Gargan. "He'll probably work Friday - we'll get a solid work in him over the Oklahoma."

Dornoch was last seen finishing a troubled 10th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 4 where he drew the rail and was shuffled back at the half-mile call. He checked again at the quarter pole before running evenly down the lane to finish well back of the victorious Mystik Dan.

Dornoch posted back-to-back graded victories in the Grade 2 Remsen in December at Aqueduct Racetrack, where he defeated subsequent Derby runner-up Sierra Leone by a nose, and in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth in March at Gulfstream Park. He entered the Derby from a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Blue Grass in April at Keeneland.

"Dornoch is shooting for the Belmont," said Gargan. "He had a rough trip in the Derby and had no shot a hundred yards in."

Batten Down targets Belmont Stakes for HOF trainer Bill Mott

May 22 - Batten Down (Juddmonte's Kentucky homebred) is the latest addition to the prospective field for the Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes as Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott confirmed the son of Tapit has his sights set on the 10-furlong test slated for June 8 at Saratoga Race Course.

"I am," said Mott when asked if he is considering the Belmont Stakes. "I don't know if he'll get in or not - he's only broken his maiden."

Batten Down was an eye-catching winner at fourth asking in an April 30 maiden special weight going the Belmont distance against elders at Churchill Downs. Ridden by Junior Alvarado, Batten Down went straight to the lead and never looked back, widening his advantage at every point of call to draw off to an 8 3/4-length victory in a final time of 2:02.49. He was awarded a 92 Beyer Speed Figure.

"It was a spectacular ride by Junior Alvarado," said Mott. "We were pleased to find out he handled the distance good."

Batten Down has improved with more ground in each start, as would be expected with his pedigree. Out of multiple Grade 1-winner and 2014 Champion Older Mare Close Hatches, Batten Down is a full-brother to the Mott-trained Tacitus, who finished second in the 2019 Belmont Stakes at its traditional 1 1/2-mile distance and won the 10-furlong Grade 2 Suburban as a 4-year-old.

Batten Down finished sixth on debut sprinting seven furlongs in January, but was defeated a neck in his next start when stretched out to nine furlongs. He then finished a close third with stalking tactics when traveling 1 1/16 miles ahead of his breakthrough score in his farthest test to date.

Horse Racing Rebates

Mott said he expects another prominent trip in the Belmont.

"He'll be in with a different group of horses, but the pace is usually different going a mile and a quarter than a mile and a sixteenth, so that leaves him closer [in longer routes] than the other types of races," said Mott.

Batten Down worked Monday over Saratoga Race Course's Oklahoma dirt training track, covering five-eighths in 1:02.55 with Alvarado at the helm.

"It was beautiful, and Junior worked him like poetry in motion. It was a beautiful piece of work," said Mott.

In addition to Batten Down, among those currently under consideration for the Belmont Stakes are Antiquarian [Todd Pletcher], Dornoch [Danny Gargan], Fierceness [Pletcher], Honor Marie [Whit Beckman], Seize the Grey [D. Wayne Lukas], Sierra Leone [Chad Brown], The Wine Steward [Mike Maker], and Tuscan Gold [Brown]. Trainer Ken McPeek is considering entering Mystik Dan but should he not enter his Grade 1 Kentucky Derby winner there is the possibility McPeek could enter Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks-winner Thorpedo Anna instead.

Preakness Winner Seize the Grey 'Likely' for Belmont Stakes

May 19 - Early Sunday morning, 11 hours after Seize the Grey delivered his Hall of Fame trainer his seventh victory in the 2024 Preakness Stakes (G1), age-defying D. Wayne Lukas, 88, was, per usual, looking ahead.

Lukas said that it was likely that the colt with 2,750 owners in the MyRacehorse partnership, would run in the Belmont Stakes (G1) June 8 at Saratoga Race Course. After talking about how Seize the Grey, under jockey Jaime Torres, led the $2 million Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown from gate to wire over the muddy track at Pimlico to beat Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mystik Dan by 2 ΒΌ, lengths, Lukas was touting his group of 2-year-olds. He said the crop of talent included about nine from top sires, Justify, Into Mischief and Gun Runner.

One of Lukas' early morning visitors promptly asked him if he expected to be sitting in the same place, at the end of the stakes barn, next year, reflecting on another Preakness score.

"You're damn right," Lukas said. "If not, they need to fire me. I've got plenty to work with."

Five years ago, it looked like Lukas' record-breaking career was in a quiet fade. His stable won 15 races that season. In 2019, its earnings barely exceeded $1 million. Always the optimist and salesman, Lukas found new owners to invest in a legend. His comeback to prominence began in 2022 and with plenty of high-price talent in his program he is aiming at more victories in major races.

Seize the Grey's victory was his first Preakness win since his score with Calumet Farm's Oxbow in 2013 and his second Triple Crown series victory since Commendable won the 2000 Belmont Stakes. He won his first of 15 Triple Crown races beginning with Codex in the 1980 Preakness in the 20th century. Lukas is tied with 19th century horseman Robert Wyndham Walden in Preakness wins, one behind Bob Baffert.

Lukas chuckled as he discussed the addition of a 15th Triple Crown race win, second only to Baffert's 17, to his resume.

"I needed to bounce back and get another one. One of the things that surprised me is they told me it was 10 or 11 years since Oxbow. I didn't think it was that long. Doesn't seem that long."

Seize the Grey completed the 1 3/16 miles in 1:56.82 and paid $21.60.

2024 Belmont Stakes Info

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