2024 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga

Dr. Gregory Beroza, aka HorseDoc ‘Talking Horses,’ takes a look at the upcoming Belmont Stakes Racing Festival. Here’s his take on the field and other horses to watch.

The 2024 Belmont Stakes and its Festival of additional weekend races will be epic. The Belmont Stakes is being run at Saratoga racetrack through at least 2026, until renovation of the downstate Belmont Park track is complete. As a result, the race distance is shortened from the classic 1-1/2 to 1-1/4 miles.

There are 10 talented contestants entered including the Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness second place horse, Mystik Dan, the second place Kentucky Derby horse, Sierra Leone; and, the Preakness winner, Seize The Grey.

Mystik Dan. Photo by ACoglianese, NYRA.

Mystik Dan. Photo by GBeroza.

Additionally, there are several Grade 1 Stakes winners, plus an emerging new super-star named Mindframe. He is trained by four-time Belmont Stakes winning trainer Todd Pletcher and will be ridden by leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr., who previously won two Belmont Stakes races. Mindframe is the only entry without prior stakes caliber competition; however, he has been performing like a monster, winning his last two starts by impressive margins. He is currently the second betting favorite at 7-2 odds.

Mindframe, the outside horse. Photo by ACoglianese, NYRA.

Chad Brown trained Sierra Leone is the favored at 9-5 odds. He previously came a close second in the Kentucky Derby to winner Mystik Dan. Sierra Leone had difficulties steering a straight path in that race and is newly fitted with a special bit to help correct that problem. His rider will be Flavien Prat.

Sierra Leone on the inside. Photo by ACoglianese, NYRA.

Seize The Grey, the fourth betting choice at 8-1 odds, won the Preakness Stakes with Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan coming a close second. He is trained by legendary D. Wayne Lukas, ridden by jockey Jaime Torres, and owned by a partnership of 2,570 owners. At nearly 89 years old, Lukas won his 15th individual Triple Crown race and jockey Jaime Torres won the first of his first-time Triple Crown races with the 2024 Preakness win.

Seize The Grey, stall side at the Lukas Barn at Saratoga. Photo by GBeroza.

Accomplished Hall of Fame trainer Billy Mott has entered Resilience, landing fifth place betting at 10-1 odds. He is being ridden by successful G1 Stakes winning jockey Junior Alvarado. Resilience finished sixth in a field of 20 Kentucky Derby hopefuls. Mott and Alvarado have teamed up several times in the past to accomplish great performances. A few of their successfully partnered mounts include Cody’s Wish, Art Collector, Olympiad and Just FYI.

Sixth betting odds choice of 12-1 is shared by Antiquarian, a Pletcher trainee with two-time winning Belmont jockey John Velazquez aboard. This three-year-old Centennial Farms colt enters off a recent win in the G1 Peter Pan Stakes on May 11th at Aqueduct with the same connections.

Antiquarian, the outside horse. Photo by ACoglianese, NYRA.

Antiquarian in the Pletcher Barn at Saratoga. Photo by GBeroza.

Centennial Farms last won the Belmont Stakes in 1982 with Colonial Affair, trained by Scotty Schulhoffer and ridden by Julie Krone. Krone was the first female jockey to win a Triple Crown race. Honor Marie, trained by Whitworth Beckman and ridden by Florent Geroux, is also drawing attention with 12-1 odds. He had a horrible trip in the Kentucky Derby yet finished eight out of 20 horses entered.

The remaining field is: Dornach (Gargan-Saez) 15-1 odds; The Wine Steward (Maker-Franco) 15-1 odds; Protective (Pletcher-Gaffalione) 20-1 odds. The competition for this year’s Belmont Stakes at Saratoga is well matched and any one of the 10 horses is capable of winning.

There are two non-Belmont Stakes horses worth paying attention to which are running on the same Saturday, June 8th in different races:

White Abarrio amassed nearly $5 Million Dollars in purses with a record of 7-1-3 in 15 starts. He won the 2022 Florida Derby and in 2023 he won the Whitney Stakes and the Breeder’s Cup Classic. This White Abarrio, last year’s winner of both the TraverBreeders’ Cup Classic winner will be his first start back after finishing a disappointing 10th in the G1 Saudi Cup in February. Bob Baffert is shipping in last year’s Preakness Stakes winning speedster and 2024 Pegasus Cup winner National Treasure who has been off since finishing fourth in the Saudi Cup. We interviewed White Abarrio’s trainer Rick Dutrow.

Nutella Fella has two wins in his first two starts. He won the seven-furlong G1 2023 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga and subsequently needed time off for medical care. He is now back stronger than ever, and his trainer Gary Contessa feels confident he will prevail in the upcoming seven-furlong Woody Stephens G1 Stakes on June 8th at Saratoga. To challenge Contessa, Baffert is shipping in Imagination, who finished seventh in the May 18th Preakness Stakes. He is also entering Prince of Monaco after having finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November.

The G1 Acorn Stakes will resemble a rematch of the Kentucky Oaks. #1)  Thorpedo Anna (McPeek-Hernandez), #2) Just FYI (Mott-Alvarado), #3) Regulatory Risk (Brown-JOrtiz) .

The entire Belmont Stakes Racing Festival weekend is filled with talent and will be an experience worth remembering. We spoke with several racing insiders to get their opinions about the upcoming weekend races, including: Paul Barone, Carlos Martin, Rick Dutrow, David Duggan, Philip Antonacci, Gary Contessa, Junior Alvarado, Kenny McPeek, David Grening, D. Wayne Lukas, and Gena Antonucci.

You can check out our 17.5 minute video broadcast discussions below:

Dr. Gregory A. Beroza, DVM, DACVS, DABVP has been a practicing veterinarian and consultant for 42 years; and HorseDoc® ‘Talking Horses’® media host, author, and consultant since 2007. Dr. Beroza is a multimedia host and broadcasts his productions, including a new Podcast, via his WuzUpDoc Media website: www.WuzUpDoc.com. He can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and other social media sources.

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