Donegal Racing and Repole Stable’s Kentucky-bred Mo Donegal defeated his stablemate Nest in winning the 154th Belmont Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park on Saturday, June 11. The win marked a sweep of this year’s Triple Crown races for Kentucky-breds, following Rich Strike’s win in the Kentucky Derby (G1), and Early Voting’s win in the Preakness Stakes (G1).
Mo Donegal proved much the best in the Belmont. Ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Mo Donegal rallied past a stubborn Skippylongstocking and a tiring We the People with three-sixteenths remaining in the 1 ½-mile “Test of a Champion” to win the final leg of the Triple Crown by three lengths in a final time of 2:28.28. Nest, the only filly in the race and owned by Repole Stable and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, stumbled slightly at the start but rallied strongly in the lane to secure second.
Mo Donegal’s victory marked the fourth Belmont Stakes win for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher who also won the race with Rags to Riches (2007), Palace Malice (2013), and Tapwrit (2017).
“it’s a 40-year dream,” said co-owner Mike Repole. “Coming to this track and Aqueduct, being a kid from New York, this is New York’s race…This was the biggest goal of my racing life, and I just accomplished it and I ran 1-2.”
Jerry Crawford of Donegal Racing, said, “I want to thank all the partners of Donegal Racing. They’ve believed and today they’ve been rewarded. I think this victory today shows that the sport is more accessible than they may realize. I can’t say enough for Todd Pletcher and Irad Ortiz Jr. for the great job they’ve done with this horse. We were a little confident going into this race today and when he turned for home, I said, ‘forget about it.’ I know Todd thought he could get a strong last quarter mile, and he surely did.”
By Uncle Mo out of the Pulpit mare Callingmissbrown, Mo Donegal, a $250,000 Keeneland September Sale graduate, was bred in the Bluegrass by Ashview Farm and Colts Neck Stables; the partnership scored its own Belmont exacta by also breeding runner-up Nest, a daughter of Curlin.
Mo Donegal entered the Belmont off a troubled fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Ortiz said a clear trip made the difference in the Belmont.
“Last time in the Derby, he didn’t have the best trip and he still got beat by (only) three or five lengths,” Ortiz said. “I knew if I got a better trip, he could get there. When I asked him in the clear, he took off. He’s a nice horse.”