154th Belmont Stakes winner Mo Donegal’s exciting victory a 5-2 favorite

Mo Donegal (6), with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. up, crosses the finish line to win the 154th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race on Sat Jun 10, 2022 (AP News photo)

By Jessica Kwong

The Belmont Stakes favorite, Mo Donegal, won the 154th running of the race on Saturday evening with an official time of 2:28:28.

Mo Donegal entered as a 5-2 favorite, and initially trailed We The People, who entered at 7-2. We The People lead the pack for roughly the first mile but fell to fourth place. Mo Donegal was in the middle and Skippylongstocking was second and trying to take the lead. But Mo Donegal surged from fifth place to first to take the crown.

It was his Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher’s fourth time winning the Belmont Stakes. Pletcher won Belmont in 2007 with Rags to Riches, with Palace Malice in 2013 and with Tapwrit in 2017.

In addition to winning with Mo Donegal, Pletcher’s other trainee Nest came in second place.

Owner Mike Repole said “this is my Derby.”

“This has been a dream that I’ve had for 40 years,” said Repole. “This is the biggest goal I had in my racing life, and I just accomplished it, and I ran 1-2.”

The Belmont betting favorite has won the race more than 42% of the time in the history of the running.

“I’m always going to be Mike from Queens,” Repole said. “This is New York’s biggest race, and to win it here, with family, friends, I’m sort of overwhelmed.”

Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike came in sixth place. Saturday was the first time that three different horses won the Triple Crown races in four straight years.

Here are the Belmont Stakes results and payouts:

1 – Mo Donegal WIN: $7.20 PLACE: $3.80 SHOW: $3.00 2 – Nest PLACE: $5.30 SHOW: $4.10 3 – Skippylongstocking SHOW: $5.60

Finishing order: 

  1. Mo Donegal
  2. Nest
  3. Skippylongstockin
  4. We the People
  5. Creative Minister
  6. Rich Strike
  7. Barber Road
  8. Golden Glider

The Election has been decided Early Voting wins the Preakness

Jose Ortiz atop Early Voting wins the 147th running of the Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course, Saturday, May 21, 2022, in Baltimore. (AP News photo)

By Jessica Kwong

A favorite among politicians, Early Voting won the 147th Preakness Stakes race at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Saturday evening.

Ridden by jockey Jose Ortiz, Early Voting edged out the favorite, Epicenter, who came in second, and Creative Minister who took third. Early Voting followed the leaders for much of the running before taking first in the final turn and finishing 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Epicenter. Epicenter came in second, just as he did in the Kentucky Derby.

Early Voting won five years after his trainer Chad Brown and owner Seth Klarman won the race with Cloud Computing.

“We thought he needed a little more seasoning, the extra rest would help him,” said Klarman. “He was pretty lightly raced – only three races before today. And as it turned out, that was the right call. We wanted to do right by the horse, and we’re so glad we waited.”

Early Voting, with a 1:54:54 winning time, paid $13.40, $4.60 and $3.60. Meanwhile, Epicenter paid $2.80 and $2.40. Creative Minister paid $4.20.

Early Voting’s team originally planned for him to try to take the lead. However, when Armagnac took the lead held Early Voting back as Epicenter ran inside the rail.

“I was never worried. Once we had a good target, I actually preferred that,” said Brown.

“We were fine to go to the lead, but I thought down the back side it was going to take a good horse to beat us. And a good horse did run up on us near the wire and it was about the only one that could run with us.”

It is Early Voting’s third win in four career races taking the $900,000 winner’s share of the $1.65 million purse.

“Early Voting is the winner of the Preakness and deserves all the credit for doing so, and nothing but,” Epicenter’s trainer Steve Asmussen said.

The final race of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, takes place on June 11.

Striking it Rich: Long shot horse Rich Strike wins 148th Kentucky Derby

Rich Strike gets to the finish line and beats the odds with jockey Sonny Leon at the 148th Kentucky Derby on Sat May 7, 2022 ( photo by Michael Clevenger and Christopher Granger Courier Journal)

By Jessica Kwong

The 80-1 long shot, Rich Strike, won the 148th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

The favorites of the race appeared to be on their way to win, but in the final few paces, Rich Strike raced inside and overtook Epicenter and Zandon. Epicenter took second, and Zandon came in third.

Into the last turn, Rich Strike was trailing in the 17th position. But as Epicenter and Zandon competed for the lead, Rich Strike ran by the rail and sailed to victory. Rich Strike is one of the longest-odds horses to win the Kentucky Derby.

“I about fell down in the paddock when he hit the wire,” Rich Strike’s owner Dawson said. “I about passed out.”

Rich Strike would not even have raced in the Derby, had it not been for Ethereal Road’s scratch just before the entry deadline on Friday morning.

“We found out about 30 seconds before the deadline on Friday,” Dawson said. “It put us in the race and really we always felt if we just got in we’ve got a shot.”

Dawson was preparing to train for the Belmont Stakes – but things took an unexpected turn for the best.

“We proved it today,” Dawson said.

Rich Strike’s win was the biggest odds upset since 1913, when 91-1 long shot Donerail became the champion. He earned $1.86 million for his second career victory. It was trainer Eric Reed’s first Derby horse.

The Derby field looked very different than it has for many years, notably because of trainer Bob Baffert’s absence. The six-time Derby winner is serving a two-year suspension since his horse Medina Spirit tested positive for a prohibited substance. Medina Spirit’s victory was stripped. Two of Baffert’s former horses competed: Messier and Taiba.

The Kentucky Derby is first of this year’s Triple Crown. Next is the Preakness Stakes on May 21, and finally, the Belmont Stakes on June 11.

Knicks Go tops three year old competition for $6 million purse at the Breeders Cup in Del Mar

Knicks Go in front of the pack for the winner of the 2021 Breeders Cup Classic at Del Mar on Sat Nov 6, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Jessica Kwong

Knicks Go defied age and beat a trio of three-year-old top horses including controversial Kentucky Derby champion Medina Spirit in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday in Del Mar.

The five-year-old with 3-1 odds, ridden by Joel Rosario and trained by Brad Cox, set the pace and finished with a 2 3/4-length victory. Knicks Go covered 1 1/4 miles in 1:59.57, coming within three-fifths of a second of the record at Del Mar Racetrack for that distance.

“He broke really sharp,” Rosario said. “He looked like he was really enjoying what he was doing. I could see his ears, he was so relaxed.”

Knicks Go paid $8.40 to win on a $2 wager. It was his fourth consecutive win and boosted him in the running for the Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year.

“Speed is very dangerous,” Cox said.

Embattled trainer Bob Baffert’s Medina Spirit, who failed a drug test after the Derby, came in second. Medina Spirit is expected to be tested for the anti-inflammatory which is legal, but after the race week. Baffert currently does not face any charges.

Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality, the 9-5 favorite, finished third. Essential Quality is retiring due to his stallion value.

The hometown hero Hot Rod Charlie, who enjoyed “Let’s go Chuck” chants leading up to the race, came in fourth.

The Breeders’ Cup classic had only eight horses because Express Train had swelling in his right hock in the morning and was scratched.

Last year, Knicks Go won all three of his races, including the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. In January, the Maryland-bred Paynter colt won the G1 Pegasus Invitational.

While Baffert’s horse came in second in the classic on Saturday, his horse Corniche won the $2 million Juvenile on Friday. Corniche became a horse to watch in next year’s Derby, but it remains to be seen who will train him since Baffert is banned from the race for two years amid the Medina Spirit controversy.

Baffert horse Corniche wins Breeders Cup at Del Mar

Corniche crosses the finish line with Jockey Mike Smith at the Breeders Cup at Del Mar on Fri Nov 5, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Jessica Kwong

Corniche, trained by embattled trainer Bob Baffert, on Friday won the Breeders’ Cup $2 million Juvenile, becoming a horse to watch for next year’s Kentucky Derby.

On the opening day of the 38th Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in California, jockey Mike Smith led Corniche to a 1 3/4-length victory.

Smith guided Corniche to break from the outside in the pack of 11 horses and did not give up the lead in completing the 1-1/16 miles in 1:42.50.

The jockey said he was mostly concerned with how warm Corniche was before the race.

“The only thing I was worried about was that he got hotter than he ever had. It just made me get calmer,” Smith said. “I don’t think I have ever been so calm in a big race. I just sat really still, he caught a flyer leaving the gate and I just left him alone.”

Corniche, the 7-5 favorite, earned his third victory in three attempts and positioned himself as an early favorite for the 2022 Derby.

Baffert said he knew from the 11th hole that Smith was going to have to push Corinche harder than usual.

“Mike is a great rider. I love him on a horse like that,” said Baffert, who won his 18th Breeders’ Cup and fifth Juvenile.

While all eyes are now on Corniche, it remains to be seen who will prepare him for the Derby. Baffert is banned from the race for two years after his Derby winner this year, Medina Spirit, came back with a positive drug test. Corniche would not be able to earn points to qualify for the Derby if trained by Baffert.

Pappacap, a 15-1 longshot, came in second with jockey Joe Bravo, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Giant Game, also a longshot.

Giant Game’s trainer Dale Romans said he thought they would win the Juvenile, but congratulated Corniche.

“Congratulations to the winner. It was a big race by him,” Romans said. “It’s hard to beat Bob on his home court.”

The Breeders’ Cup continues for its second day on Saturday.

Belmont Stakes: Essential Quality was the sure bet holds off runner up Hot Rod Charlie

Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr crosses the finish line with winning horse Essential Quality to win the 128th Metropolitan horse race at the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park NY on Sat Jun 5, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Jessica Kwong

The Belmont Stakes favorite, Essential Quality, won the 153rd running of the third and final leg of the Triple Crown on Saturday evening.

Essential Quality overtook the early leader, Hot Rod Charlie, in the final turn and held him off until the finish line and won the $1 million race.

“That was a long way around there a mile a half but it was exciting,” Cox said. “It looked like the horse on the inside, he still had run left. I knew it was going to be a battle down the line.”

Hot Rod Charlie finished second while the 146th Preakness Stakes champion, Rombauer, finished third.

Essential Quality gave his trainer Brad Cox his first Triple Crown victory. His jockey Luis Saez also won a Triple Crown race for the first time.

Saez said Belmont was his “second home” and that this was the race I wanted to win.”

Cox said that Saez “did a fantastic job of getting him in position turning for home and he was able to really show his stamina late.”

The race did not include Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, after the horse failed a drug test after the Derby. Medina Spirit’s trainer, Bob Baffert, has been suspended from the Derby for two years, it was announced on Wednesday. In addition, the New York Racing Association temporarily suspended Baffert from entering any races this month at the track that hosts the Belmont Stakes.

A limited crowd of 11,000 people attended the race at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, and were required to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test.

Called the “Test of the Champion,” it is the oldest event in the Triple Crown and also the longest, at 1½ miles, or 12 furlongs.

Here is the 2021 Belmont Stakes finish order:

1 Essential Quality

2 Hot Rod Charlie

3 Rombauer

4 Known Agenda

5 Bourbonic

146th Preakness Steaks: Rombauer out hustles Midnight Bourbon

Rombauer the winning horse crossing the finish line at the 146th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Sat May 15, 2021 (photo from @PreaknessStakes)

By Jessica Kwong

Rombauer outran Midnight Bourbon and controversy stricken Kentucky Derby victor Medina Spirit to win the 146th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Saturday evening.

Medina Spirit had appeared likely to win the second leg of the Triple Crown after taking first place at Churchill Downs two weeks ago, which was tainted by a positive test for a steroid post-race.

Both Medina Spirit and Midnight Bourbon, the early favorite, broke well early and Medina Spirit led into the first turn. Midnight Bourbon took over the lead as the horses went into the frontstretch. However, Rombauer made a late charge in the final yards and claimed victory by four lengths.

Rombauer, ridden by jockey Flavien Prat, finished in 1:53.62 and paid $25.60 on a $2 bet to win. Midnight Bourbon, at 3-1 odds, came in second while Medina Spirit, at 2-1 odds, finished third.

It was Prat’s second victory in a Triple Crown race. Prat won the Kentucky Derby in 2019 riding Country House, after Maximum Security was disqualified due to interference, so Saturday was a different feeling for him.

“There’s so much history behind these races, and to win one is great, and to win the Preakness is even better,” said Prat.

Rombauer’s trainer Michael McCarthy captured the honor in just his first appearance in the Preakness and said he was “so proud of this horse, everybody involved.”

“It just goes to show you that small players in the game can be successful as well,” McCarthy said.

Medina Spirit’s trainer Bob Baffert in a statement before the race on Saturday reiterated that his colt’s Kentucky Derby victory was “the result of the horse’s tremendous heart and nothing else” and that ‘there was never any attempt to game or cheat the system.” Medina Spirit cleared three rounds of drug testing on Friday heading into the Preakness.

Here is the Preakness 2021 finishing order:


2.Midnight Bourbon

3.Medina Spirit

4. Keepmeinmind

5. Crowded Trade

Kentucky Derby: Baffert couldn’t believe his eyes on Madina Spirit win

Its a photo finish for Madina Spirit at the Kentucky Derby at Church Downs on Sat May 1, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Jessica Kwong

Medina Spirit made history at the 147th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday with an upset that gave trainer Bob Baffert his record seventh win in “The Run for the Roses.”

The yearling only had the sixth best odds in the race at 12-1 but took an early lead. Essential Quality, the favorite at 3-1 odds, was well off the lead early but started closing in at the half-mile mark, along with Hot Rod Charlie with odds at 5-1. Essential Quality started making the move from fifth at the three-quarter mile mark, but Medina Spirit maintained the lead. Medina Spirit also held off a late charge from Mandaloun, who finished in second place followed by Hot Rod Charlie.

Medina Spirit crossed the finish line at 2:01:02, with jockey John Velazquez. His victory was a shock to his trainer.

“I knew he was training well, but I’m really, really surprised,” Baffert said. “When I saw him on the easy lead, I kept waiting for these horses to come at him, but Johnny had him in a perfect spot. If you have him on the lead, he’ll fight.”

Baffert is the only trainer with seven Kentucky Derby wins.

Medina Spirit also boosted Velazquez’s career as one of the best jockeys in the sport. His name may sound familiar, as he won the 2020 race in September riding Authentic. Velazquez has won four Kentucky Derbys and is one of only seven jockeys to win consecutive ones.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d win four Derbys,” Velazquez said. “I never look at the numbers … I just want to come and do my job.”

The $3 million purse is distributed among the top five finishers. Medina Spirit earned $1.86 million, Mandaloun got $600,000, Hot Rod Charlie received $300,000 and Essential Quality took $100,000.

Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, typically draws more than 150,000 people for the race that is part of the Triple Crown. Due to the pandemic, the attendance this year was just 51,838. Last year, the race was run without spectators.

Here’s the Kentucky Derby 2021 finish order:

1 – Medina Spirit

2 – Mandaloun

3 – Hot Rod Charlie

4 – Essential Quality

5 – O Besos

Headline Sports podcast with Daniel Dullum: Chiefs-Patriots game postponed Newton in quarantine; Swiss Skydiver edges out the Preakness; plus more

The New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) and running back Rex Burkhead (34) celebrate Burkhead’s touchdown catch against the Las Vegas Raiders last Sunday in Foxborough (AP News photo)

On Headline Sports with Daniel:

1 NFL’s Covid-19 issues — Patriots QB Cam Newton placed on league’s pandemic reserve list; NFL postponed Chiefs-Patriots game

2 Preakness won by filly Swiss Skydiver

3 Swingin’ A’s in the ALDS

4 Aces hope to bounce back in WNBA finals against Seattle; play game 2 today in Florida

5 RIP Bob Gibson, Ron Perranoski, Jay Johnstone hard to believe

Daniel Dullum does Headline Sports podcasts each Sunday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Preakness Stakes 2020: Swiss Skydiver first filly to win a race since 2009

Filly Swiss Skydiver wins the 145th Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Sat Oct 3, 2020 (AP News photo)

By Jessica Kwong

The only filly in the race, Swiss Skydiver, won the Preakness Stakes on Saturday afternoon, claiming her place in history as only the sixth female horse to do so, and the first in 11 years.

Swiss Skydiver beat all the boys in thrilling fashion, in a stretch duel with Kentucky Derby champion Authentic. The two-horse race was close, but the three-year-old filly held Authentic off and beat him by a nose.

She was the first filly, or young female horse less than four years of age, to win the race since Rachel Alexandria in 2009.

“Just a real honor to be around a horse like this,” Swiss Skydiver’s trainer Kenny McPeek said. “It’s a special moment.”

Swiss Skydiver’s jockey Robby Albarado said he “had an opportunity” when Authentic’s Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez abandoned the rail at the far turn.

“I took advantage of the rail. Johnny stayed off the fence there, made a conscious decision to move at that time. Give or take now,” Albarado said. “If I make that move now or I wait and get smothered.”

With odds of 11-1, Swiss Skydiver upset 3-2 favorite Authentic. Jesus’ Team at 40-1 took third place and Art Collector at 2-1 finished fourth.

Swiss Skydiver was the first filly to compete in the Preakness since 2014, when Ria Antonia came in last. Swiss Skydiver raced in Kentucky, New York, Florida, Louisiana, California and Arkansas this year, and was constantly hungry and eager to train.

“She never gets tired,” McPeek said.

McPeek won the Preakness for the first time and celebrated his second victory in a Triple Crown series after last winning the Belmont Stakes in 2002.

By defeating Authentic and Thousand Words, Swiss Skydiver denied their trainer Bob Baffert of a 17th Triple Crown race win and prevented him from setting a record with eight Preakness victories.

The spectator-less 145th running of the Preakness at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, came just four weeks after the Kentucky Derby. For the first time, the 1 3/16th-mile-long race was the third leg of the Triple Crown, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The backwards schedule this year kicked off with the Belmont Stakes on June 20, followed by the Kentucky Derby on September 5.

Authentic upset Belmont Stakes champion Tiz the Law, who did not compete in the Preakness as he was not ready, according to Sackatoga Sable managing partner Jack Knowlton. The most recent Triple Crown winner was Justify, trained by Baffert, in 2018.

2020 Preakness Stakes results:

1. Swiss Skydiver – 11/1 2. Authentic – 3/2 3. Jesus’ Team – 40/1 4. Art Collector – 2/1