Stats and storylines for the 2024 Belmont Stakes

June 5th, 2024

The 2024 Triple Crown concludes with a bang at Saratoga this Saturday. The 156th Belmont S. (G1), the final leg of the three-race series, has drawn a strong field of 10 horses.

Here are stats and storylines to follow as the 2024 Belmont unfolds:

Belmont shifts to different track and distance

Due to renovations at historic Belmont Park, the 2024 Belmont is taking place at Saratoga over a distance shortened from 1 1/2 miles to 1 1/4 miles. The last time the Belmont took place over 1 1/4 miles was 1905.

Saratoga is the fifth racetrack to host the Belmont, following Jerome Park (1867-1889), Morris Park (1890-1904), Belmont Park (1905-1962 and 1968-2023) and Aqueduct (1963-1967).

Derby, Preakness winners get a rematch

For the first time since 2013, the Belmont features a rematch between the winners of the first two legs of the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1).

Mystik Dan was the star of the show in the Derby, battling gamely to win a three-horse photo finish. He subsequently finished second in the Preakness to Seize the Grey, who sprung a gate-to-wire upset. If one of these colts can secure a second classic win in the Belmont, they’ll be the frontrunner to earn champion three-year-old male honors at the Eclipse Awards.

Mystik Dan seeks to become the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby, lose the Preakness, and rebound in the Belmont since Thunder Gulch in 1995. If Seize the Grey wins, he’ll become the first horse to skip the Derby and then win the Preakness and Belmont since Pillory in 1922.

Beaten Derby runners try the Belmont

Since 2000, 11 horses have lost the Kentucky Derby, skipped the Preakness, and prevailed in the Belmont. It’s a highly productive path that has produced a mix of well-regarded and longshot winners.

Four horses are employing this approach in 2024. Sierra Leone, runner-up by a nose in the Kentucky Derby, is the 9-5 morning line favorite for the Belmont. He’ll be joined by Resilience (sixth in the Derby), Honor Marie (eighth), and Dornoch (10th).

Peter Pan alumni lead Triple Crown newcomers

Four horses are making their Triple Crown debuts in the Belmont. They include Antiquarian, The Wine Steward, and Protective, who were separated by two lengths when running 1-2-3 in last month’s Peter Pan (G3).

The Peter Pan (or an equivalent race) has produced four Belmont winners since 2010, including last year’s Arcangelo, who won both races.

The only other newcomer to the Triple Crown scene is Mindframe, an undefeated colt who dominated an allowance optional claimer on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs by 7 1/2 lengths. He’ll seek to become the first horse without graded stakes experience to win the Belmont since Sarava in 2002.

Four jockeys aim to boost their Belmont tallies

Four of the 10 jockeys riding in the 2024 Belmont have previously won the third jewel of the Triple Crown.

Irad Ortiz Jr., named to ride Mindframe, has won the Belmont twice aboard Creator (2016) and Mo Donegal (2022). Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, riding Antiquarian, has likewise recorded two wins aboard Rags to Riches (2007) and Union Rags (2012).

Luis Saez (riding Dornoch) and Manny Franco (guiding The Wine Steward) will aim to join Ortiz and Velazquez as twice-victorious Belmont jockeys. Saez steered Essential Quality to victory in 2021, while Franco partnered with Tiz the Law in 2020.

Prat looks to complete personal Triple Crown

Flavien Prat, one of the most accomplished riders in the nation, has won the Kentucky Derby aboard Country House (2019) and the Preakness aboard Rombauer (2021). But the Belmont has proven elusive; his best finish to date was a second aboard Hot Rod Charlie in 2021.

In a quest to complete his personal Triple Crown, Prat is partnering with Sierra Leone in this year’s Belmont.

Lukas, McPeek, Mott, Pletcher seek additional Belmont wins

Six of the 10 Belmont entrants are conditioned by trainers who have previously won the Belmont.

Hall of Fame trainers D. Wayne Lukas and Todd Pletcher have won the Belmont four times apiece. Lukas won three in a row with Tabasco Cat, Thunder Gulch, Editor’s Note (1994-96) and picked up his fourth with Commendable (2000). He’ll saddle Seize the Grey this Saturday.

Pletcher has enjoyed more recent success, winning with Rags to Riches (2007), Palace Malice (2013), Tapwrit (2017), and Mo Donegal (2022). He’s entered a trio of horses in this year’s Belmont: Antiquarian, Mindframe, and Protective.

Bill Mott, another Hall of Fame conditioner, won the 2010 Belmont with Drosselmeyer and will seek a second score with Resilience.

Kenny McPeek, who saddled the above-mentioned Sarava to a 70-1 upset, is sending out Mystik Dan.

Betting handle could set a record

The 2023 Belmont Stakes Day program at Belmont Park attracted $118.3 million in wagers, the highest ever recorded in a year when there wasn’t a Triple Crown sweep on the line. It topped the previous record of $112.7 million from 2021.

With the excitement of the Belmont program moving to Saratoga for 2024, there’s a chance another record will be set for wagering on a non-Triple Crown Belmont card.