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Mo Donegal Wins Belmont Stakes, Nest Second

James Murphy
by in Horses on
  • Mo Donegal won Saturday’s Belmont Stakes by three lengths over stablemate Nest.
  • Nest was trying to become just the fourth female horse to win the Belmont Stakes.
  • Morning line favorite We The People set the pace and led in the early going only to fade down the stretch and finish fourth.

Wood Memorial winner Mo Donegal couldn’t catch a break in the Kentucky Derby. He started from the rail with post position 1. He broke late, got caught up in traffic but scrapped his way to a fifth place finish. It was the first time in his career that he finished out of the money. Irad Ortiz Jr.–one of the best jockeys in the business–knew that his horse had the talent to win the Belmont Stakes. He just needed to get a better ride and avoid trouble. Ortiz and Mo Donegal both did their part on Saturday, coming from off the pace and winning the 154th running of the Belmont Stakes.

Many horse racing observers–myself included–considered Mo Donegal the best overall entry in the race and had hoped that his price would drift upwards as We The People and Rich Strike took action. It didn’t happen and Mo Donegal went off as the post time favorite at 5-2. By race time, morning line favorite We The People (2-1) had been bet down to 7-2 with Rich Strike moving slightly from his morning line price (7-2) to 4-1. My two Belmont selections were arguably the best value positions in the race at morning line prices but took action at the track. Nest had been 8-1 on the morning line but closed at 5-1. Skippylongstocking had opened at 20-1 but was bet down to 11/1 which by race time made him an underlay based on my ‘true odds’ calculations.

Both ‘value horses’ gave a good account of themselves. Nest stumbled at the start and encountered some traffic in the far turn but recovered to finish second, three lengths behind the winner. Ironically, Todd Pletcher’s first Belmont win came in 2007 with the filly Rags to Riches, who also stumbled out of the gate. It was a big day for Pletcher and Mo Donegal’s other connections. Pletcher won the Belmont for the fourth time with seven second place finishes. He trains both Nest and Mo Donegal, giving him the 1/2 finish in the race. Mike Repole owns Mo Donegal and is a partner in the ownership of Nest, so he also got the ‘1/2 finish’. Even the jockeys got in on the act–Jose Ortiz was aboard Nest and he’s the brother of Mo Donegal’s jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr.

Skippylongstocking scrapped to a third place finish. Jockey Manny Franco was smart enough not to tire his horse out early, positioning him just off the pace. Meanwhile, Jose Ortiz was saving ground along the inside with Nest and Mon Donegal was working his way through the rest of the field as the race reached the far turn. As pace setter We The People began to tire, Skippylongstocking briefly took the lead but was almost immediately passed by Mo Donegal. With the exception of a nominal challenge from stablemate Nest, Mo Donegal was in control the rest of the way.

We the People would settle for fourth followed in order by Creative Minister, Rich Strike, Barber Road and Golden Glider.

6Mo DonegalI. Ortiz, Jr.T. Pletcher7.203.803.00
3NestJ. OrtizT. Pletcher5.304.10
2SkippylongstockingM. FrancoS. Joseph, Jr.5.60
$1.00 Exacta6-3$13.80
$.50 Trifecta6-3-2$93.75
$.10 Superfecta6-3-2-1$69.20

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