Dornoch, (6), with Luis Saez up, crosses the finish line...

Dornoch, (6), with Luis Saez up, crosses the finish line ahead of Mindframe (10), with Irad Ortiz Jr. up, to win the 156th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race, Saturday, June 8, 2024, in Saratoga Springs. Credit: AP/Julie Jacobson

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Three Triple Crown races, three different winners.

And, so, for former Major League Baseball All-Star outfielder Jayson Werth, that means championships in two high-profile sports.

Werth, who won a World Series with the Phillies in 2008, is a co-owner of Dornoch, a 17-1 shot who won Saturday’s 156th running of the Belmont Stakes, contested before a sellout crowd of 50,000 at historic Saratoga Race Course while its namesake track in Elmont undergoes a massive reconstruction that’s planned to take two years.

“I would put it right up there with winning at the biggest stage,” Werth, who missed a reunion of his Phillies’ title team to attend the Belmont, told the Fox Sports’ broadcast as he celebrated his horse’s victory. “Horse racing is the most underrated sport in the world, bar none. It’s the biggest game. You’ve got the [Kentucky] Derby, the Preakness, the Belmont. We just won the Belmont. This is as good as it gets in horse racing. This is as good as it gets in sports.”

Still, the real star on Saturday was the venerable track, opened in 1860, as it hosted the Belmont Stakes for the first time.

“I think it’s the best facility in the country,” said overjoyed trainer Danny Gargan after winning his first Triple Crown race.

Dornoch, breaking from post No. 6, followed Derby champion Mystik Dan and Preakness winner Seize the Grey to a Triple Crown winner’s circle with a time of 2:01.64 over a fast track in a shortened 11/4 miles. At Belmont, the race is run at 11/2 miles.

Dornoch, who finished 10th in the Derby, came to the lead at the mile pole. Running a straight line on the inside with Luis Saez aboard, he battled and ultimately held off Mindframe down the stretch to win by a half-length after the inexperienced 5-1 shot briefly edged ahead.

But Mindframe, with Irad Ortiz Jr. up, cost himself by veering far to the outside as he raced for the finish line.

“[Ortiz] said he drifted out on him a little bit and it felt like [Mindframe] lost focus for a moment,” said Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, whose two other entries, Antiquarian and Protective, finished fifth and sixth, respectively. “He angled him back inside so he could see Dornoch and he re-engaged and was closing but just ran out of time.”

Mindframe, owned by Mike Repole, who grew up in Queens, entered the Belmont two-for-two lifetime and had gone wire-to-wire both times. Breaking from the outside post No. 10, Mindframe survived being bumped out of the gate by 8-5 favorite Sierra Leone in the ninth post.

“We got slammed at the start and he got far back,” Sierra Leone trainer Chad Brown said. “It’s a hard track today to close ground on.”

Still, Sierra Leone, with jockey Flavien Prat taking over for Tyler Gaffalione after the latter was fined for his rocky ride in the Derby, stumbled but recovered to finish third. Mystik Dan, who ran a distant eighth out of the third post on Saturday with Brian Hernandez Jr. aboard at 6-1, edged Sierra Leone by a nose in a three-way photo finish in the Derby.

Dornoch also beat Sierra Leone by a nose in the Grade 2 Remsen on Dec 2.

Seize the Grey, at 5-1, finished seventh after breaking from the rail to the lead around the second turn.

“Maybe he didn’t like the different kind of surface,” Seize the Grey jockey Jaime Torres said. “But he also had Dornoch on his neck the whole time. We were travelling well. But, at the end, he just didn’t give me any more.”

Honor Marie, at 13-1, finished fourth out of post No. 8 with Florent Geroux up.

“We wanted to be on the lead,” Gargan said. “In the Derby, the one-hole got us. He broke a touch slow.

“Three days later, we got him up here and pointed for this race. We trained him and tried to do everything the best we could. He worked great here. We got overlooked a little bit because he ran one bad race.”
Gargan, 52, the son of a jockey who grew up five blocks away from Churchill Downs, worked for both D. Wayne Lukas and fellow Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito and also worked as a jockey’s agent before opening his own stable in 2013.

Notes & quotes: Cogburn set a record on outer turf course at 51/2 furlongs in the ninth race by winning the Grade 1 Jaipur in 59.80 seconds, becoming the first horse in Saratoga history to break one minute at the distance. “So fast, I can’t believe it,” Ortiz. “He was a rocket ship…” Gaffalione pulled up Good Skate in the sixth race, the 11/4-mile Grade 2 Suburban, but the 5-year-old was said to be OK after being vanned off for examination. NYRA quickly reported the measure was taken as a precaution and “The horse did not present any obvious or apparent injury upon initial evaluation.”

More horse racing


FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.