ELMONT, NY — The kid from Queens earned his GI Belmont Stakes.
Wearing the royal blue and orange silks inspired by the New York Mets of Mike Repole, hailing from Middle Village, Donegal Racing and Repole Stable’s Mo Donegal (Uncle Mo) picked up an authoritative three-length win as 5-2 favorite before a reported crowd of 46,103 in Saturday’s GI Belmont Stakes. It was the fourth victory in the third round of the Triple Crown for Hall of Fame coach Todd Pletcher.
The filly Nest (Curling), also campaigned in partnership by the co-founder of Glaceau and coached by Pletcher, was a valiant second after stumbling at the start. Ashview Farm and Colts Neck Stables co-produced the first two.
Longshot Skippy Longstocking (Exaggerator) completed the trifecta as the 80-1 GI Kentucky Derby upset Rich Strike (Keen Ice) never considered sixth place.
“It’s a 40-year-old dream,” said Repole, who came within three quarters of surprising the 2011 Belmont with Stay Thirsty. “Coming to this track and Aqueduct, being a New York kid, is New York racing. In 2011 I came second with Stay Thirsty and watched the replay 150 times. I won’t be watching that replay again “Getting a first and second here makes up for it. It was the biggest goal of my racing life, and I just accomplished it and ran one-two.”
Repole continued: “I used to cut school and that made me an entrepreneur. I used to bet $20 and that’s a lot of pressure when you had to pay your parents back. I will always be Mike from Queens. It’s the biggest race in New York and to win it here, with my family and friends and 70 people here, it’s going to be a big circle of winners. Formed by Todd Pletcher, who is such a great friend, and with Jerry Crawford and Donegal Racing; success is best when shared.
Repole concluded, “For my silks, for a horse named ‘Mo’, by Uncle Moit’s quite special.
Mo Donegal raced between his rivals in sixth place as the winner of the GIII Peter Pan S. ‘TDN Rising Star’ We the people (Constitution) led the way around the clubhouse bend through an opening quarter in :23.99 on the fast pace of the 1 1/2 mile Classic. Irad Ortiz, Jr., aboard the winning Belmont 2016 Creator (carpet), had Mo Donegal well within striking distance in fifth with positions unchanged as We the People led GI Preakness S. fifth Skippylongstocking and GI Kentucky Oaks runners-up Nest after half a mile in: 48.49.
Traveling well before the far corner, Mo Donegal made his move as a wide four left the quarter pole and rolled through the first two three-sixteenths from home. With Ortiz, Jr. staying busy on the stretch, Mo Donegal was never seriously threatened by his stable mate as he strolled around the center late. Jose Ortiz, aboard the second, congratulated his older brother as the two enjoyed a celebratory good time together beyond the wire.
“I’m delighted, obviously, with the result,” Pletcher said. “It’s our family’s favorite race. Our kids grew up here and went to school here and we always felt like it was our hometown race. When we are lucky enough to win it, it adds a certain specialness to it. That hometown feel. This part is really cool. Also, the mile and a half challenge is something we were lucky enough to complete. It’s the “Test of the Champion”, so to have the chance to win it four times and with about five, six seconds with pretty nasty beats too, it’s very special. It was funny.”
Mo Donegal, a nose-of-the-match winner on third Zandon in the GISW and GI Kentucky Derby (Reached) in last December’s GII Remsen S. across town on the Belt Drive, kicked off his second campaign with an unlucky third in Gulfstream’s GIII Holy Bull S. on Feb. 5. Scratched from the fountain of youth GII Fasig-Tipton S. after drawing very wide and developing a minor virus, Mo Donegal clinched his ticket to Louisville with a well-deserved victory over the hero of Preakness Early Voting (gun runner) in the GII Wood Memorial S. April 9.
Repole came on board to join the ownership group in late April, buying an undisclosed stake in Mo Donegal ahead of his better-than-looked fifth-place finish with an impossible trip to the Kentucky Derby. Mo Donegal is the first horse to record the Wood Memorial-Belmont double since Empire Maker in 2003.
“I would like to thank all of Donegal Racing’s partners,” said Donegal Racing’s Jerry Crawford. “They believed and today they were rewarded. I think this victory today shows that the sport is more accessible than they think. I can’t say enough for Todd Pletcher and Irad Ortiz, Jr. for the great job they did with this horse. We were a little confident going into this race today and when he got home I said ‘forget it’. I knew Todd thought he could do a good last quarter mile, and he sure did.
Mo Donegal, a $250,000 KEESEP yearling, is the Grade 11 I winner for Ashford Stud’s Top Stallion Uncle Mo. Repole and Pletcher, of course, teamed up to campaign for the 2010 champion 2-year-old colt, led by a memorable victory in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs. This is the seventh Grade I winner for broodmare sire Pulpit. Mo Donegal’s dam, Callingmissbrown (Pulpit), a two-time winner for breeder My Meadowview LLC, is a daughter of GI Acorn S. victress and GI Kentucky Oaks runner-up Island Sand (Tabasco Cat). Mo Donegal is his second foal and his only foal since is the unreleased juvenile filly named Prank (Into Mischief), which netted $500,000 for Alex Solis II and Jason Litt at KEESEP. It is also the family of the hero of Queen’s Plate, Niigon (Unbridled).
Saturday, Belmont Park
BELMONT S. PRESENTED BY NYRA BETS-GI$1,500,000, Belmont, 6-11, 3 yrs, 1 1/2m, 2:28.28, ft.
1-MO DONEGAL, 126, c, 3, by Uncle Mo
1st dam: Callingmissbrown, by Pulpit
2nd dam: Island Sand, by Tabasco Cat
3rd Dam: Sue’s Last Dance, by Forty Niner
1ST YEAR I WIN. ($250,000 Ylg ’20 KEESEP). O-Donegal Racing and Repole Stable; B-Ashview Farm & Colts Neck Stables (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher; J-Irad Ortiz, Jr.. $800,000. Lifetime record: 7-4-0-2, $1,511,800. Rating Werk Nick: A+++. *Triple Plus*. Click for it eNicks report and 5-cross pedigree.
2–Nest121, f, 3, Curling–Marion Ravenwood, per AP Indy. ($350,000 Ylg ’20 KEESEP). O-Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House; B-Ashview Farm & Colts Neck Stables (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher. $280,000.
3–Skippy Longstocking126, c, 3, Exaggerator–Twinkling, by War Chant. 1ST TYPE G1 BLACK. ($15,000 Ylg ’20 KEESEP; $37,000 2yr ’21 OBSAPR). O-Daniel Alonso; B- Brushy Hill, LLC (KY); T-Saffie A. Joseph, Jr.. $150,000.
Margins: 3, 3 1/4, 3/4. Odds: 2.60, 5.30, 11.80.
Also raced: We the People, Creative Minister, Rich Strike, Barber Road, Golden Glider.
Click for it Chart Equibase.comthe TJCIS.com PP or the free Equineline.com catalog style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.