Fans gather by the track rail to watch racing prior...

Fans gather by the track rail to watch racing prior to the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on Aug. 24, 2013. Credit: AP/Hans Pennink

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Ken McPeek, trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan, got some morning instructions from owner Lance Gasaway prior to Monday’s post position draw for Saturday’s 156th Belmont Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.

“[It] said go there and get post three,” McPeek said after Mystik Dan drew the third post through the random selection at a packed Universal Preservation Hall downtown in the bucolic upstate city. “It’s his lucky number, I guess.”

The 10-horse field for the final leg of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, relocated while Belmont Park undergoes a complete, two-year reconstruction and being run at 11/4 miles instead of its usual grueling 11/2 miles, spotlights a rematch between Preakness winner Seize the Grey and Mystik Dan, who won the Derby breaking from post No. 3. Mystik Dan also faces a rematch with morning-line favorite Sierra Leone, who lost by a nose in the thrilling Derby showdown.

Sierra Leone, with Flavien Prat up, will break from post No. 9 at 9-5. Seize the Grey, ridden by Jaime Torres, drew the rail and 8-1 odds. Mystik Dan, with jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., is 5-1 on the morning line.

“He’s been doing great,” Sierra Leone trainer Chad Brown said. “He bounced out of that (20-horse) Derby, which can obviously be a tough race on horses, and he bounced out well. We have half as many horses to run down so that should hopefully be a little easier on him. I just hope he runs the same race as in the Derby.”

There will not be a 14th Triple Crown winner – Justify was the last in 2018 – with Mystik Dan, second in the Preakness, and Seize the Grey each winning one of the races. But either can become the 52nd horse to win two legs. Only 11 horses have won the Derby and the Belmont.

Belmont post position isn’t always as crucial as the Derby’s with a smaller field.

Mindframe, trained by Todd Pletcher and with Irad Ortiz Jr. up, drew the outside post No. 10 at 7-2 odds.

“I didn’t see any major draw impact,” Pletcher said of the lineup. “I think it’s good for Mindframe that he drew outside because he doesn’t have that much experience and it might give Irad an opportunity to give him a clean trip around there.”

Pletcher will also saddle 12-1 Antiquarian, who will break from post No. 5 with John Velazquez up, and 20-1 Protective, who drew post No. 7 and is owned by Mike Repole, who was raised in Queens.

Pletcher added he might not have entered the inexperienced Mindframe in the Belmont had it been run at its usual longer length. At the same time, Pletcher acknowledged a 11/4-mile Belmont will have different challenges.

“Sometimes that race can be run at a slower place, which can be less taxing,” Pletcher said.

Having Mystik Dan and Seize the Grey so close to each other coming out of the gate could be intriguing.

But McPeek said his horse’s race could also be impacted by 15-1 Dornoch, which will break from post No. 6 with Luis Saez aboard.

“My horse has got some natural speed if you need it,” McPeek said. “I think it’s going to kind of depend on what Dornoch does out there. But we’ll leave that up to Brian. He’s very talented and somebody who knows the horse and we trust and we’re going to let him do his thing.”

Of course, the star on Saturday could just be Saratoga.

“It’s such a beautiful track,” said Emily Bushnell, the co-owner of 10-1 Resilience, which drew post No. 2 with Junior Alvarado up. “I loved coming here growing up with my dad. It’s such an iconic venue.”

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