The so-called “Riders Up” has been given. “New York, New York” has been sung. And the 154th running of the Belmont Stakes is now in the books.
Mo Donegal won the 2022 Belmont Stakes, the oldest and longest Triple Crown race, in front of an estimated 46,000 people on a cloudy 73-degree Saturday in Elmont, New York. Mo Donegal entered the eight-horse field as the favorite at odds of 5-2, followed by We the People (4-1) and Rich Strike (4-1).
The closer recovered as the field turned and took over down the stretch, scoring an impressive win over the filly Nest as trainer Todd Pletcher swept the top two spots. Colt Uncle Mo, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., was able to quickly jump to the front and win by three lengths, covering the 1½-mile distance in 2:28.28.
“This has been a dream I’ve had for 40 years,” said owner Mike Repole, who also owns the runner-up Nest. “This is the New York race.”
Mo Donegal won the $800,000 winner’s share of the $1.5 million prize pool, taking his career earnings to more than $1.5 million, including a win at the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.
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Skippylongstocking finished in third place. We The People, who took an early lead, finished in fourth place.
We the People came in second as the second choice at 7-2, but the favorite failed to win for the second time at Belmont Park in three weeks. After winning the Peter Pan Stakes by more than 10 lengths, the Rodolphe Brisset-trained We the People led the field through the first mile but couldn’t hold on.
For Rich Strike, it was a disappointing ending. Rich Strike returned to the track in the Belmont Stakes five weeks after an upset upset in the Kentucky Derby as an unlikely 80-1, the second-biggest upset in race history. No longer the underdog, the spotlight was on Rich Strike, but he finished sixth.
“We were hoping we could get a little closer and the pace was slow,” coach Eric Reed said. “Our biggest change today was that we decided to stay off the rail a little bit and try to give him a good open run when he would take off – this is the first time he hasn’t been on the inside rail.”
Reed continued: “(Jockey Sonny Leon) said he wanted to be on the rail the whole way and he wasn’t aggressive running in the middle of the track and when he started to do his run he had to come out because we put him out there, so I think we just made a tactical mistake and we’ll have to teach him how to run around the horses.”
Mo Donegal’s win marks the fourth year in a row that three different horses have won all three Triple Crown races. Rich Strike won the Kentucky Derby and Early Voting won the Preakness Stakes. The last time it happened in four consecutive years was from 1926 to 1929.
Contributing:Stephen Edelson, Asbury Park Press; The Associated Press
Follow Cydney Henderson on Twitter @CydHenderson.