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The 2024 Belmont Stakes: Dornoch’s Unforgettable Upset at Historic Saratoga

The 156th Belmont Stakes, held on June 8, 2024, at the iconic Saratoga Race Course, will forever be etched in history as a race of upsets, dramatic finishes, and a testament to the unpredictable nature of horse racing.

An Unlikely Champion Emerges

Dornoch, a 17-1 long shot, defied all odds to capture the coveted Belmont Stakes crown. Ridden by jockey Luis Saez, the three-year-old colt owned by West Paces Racing, co-owned by former MLB All-Star Jayson Werth, showcased incredible heart and determination in the final stretch, edging out Mindframe by a nose in a photo finish that had fans on the edge of their seats.

The Unfolding Drama

The race unfolded with Preakness Stakes winner National Treasure setting a blistering early pace, followed closely by Kentucky Derby winner Mage. However, both favorites faded in the final stretch, opening the door for a dramatic upset. Dornoch, who had been biding his time in the middle of the pack, surged forward with a burst of speed, overtaking a tiring National Treasure and outdueling Mindframe in a heart-stopping dash to the finish line.

Historic Setting, Historic Race

Due to renovations at Belmont Park, the 2024 Belmont Stakes was held at Saratoga Race Course for the first time since 1890. The “Graveyard of Champions” lived up to its reputation, witnessing an upset that shocked the racing world. The shorter 1 1/4-mile distance at Saratoga, compared to Belmont Park’s 1 1/2 miles, added another layer of complexity to the race, testing the horses’ stamina and versatility.

A Triple Crown Drought Continues

The Belmont Stakes dashed the hopes of a Triple Crown winner for the second consecutive year. Mage, the Kentucky Derby champion, finished a respectable third, while National Treasure, the Preakness Stakes winner, faded to eighth place. This marked another year of frustration for those seeking the elusive feat of winning all three Triple Crown races.

The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival

The Belmont Stakes was the centerpiece of a thrilling two-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, featuring 16 captivating races and a record handle for a non-Triple Crown year. The festival showcased the best of thoroughbred racing, with top-class horses, jockeys, and trainers competing for millions of dollars in purses.

Key Highlights and Takeaways

  • Dornoch’s upset victory at 17-1 odds was the biggest since Sarava won at 70-1 in 2002.
  • The win marked jockey Luis Saez’s second Belmont Stakes victory.
  • Trainer Danny Gargan celebrated his first Triple Crown race win.
  • The race was held at Saratoga Race Course due to renovations at Belmont Park, adding a unique historical element.
  • The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival was a huge success, with record-breaking handle and attendance.

The Legacy of the 2024 Belmont Stakes

The 2024 Belmont Stakes will be remembered for its thrilling finish, unexpected outcome, and the captivating atmosphere at the historic Saratoga Race Course. It was a race that showcased the beauty and unpredictability of horse racing, reminding us that even the biggest long shots can rise to the occasion and create unforgettable moments in sports history.

See photos from the New York Times:

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