2024 Belmont Stakes Cheat Sheet: Get to Know the Horses

2024 Belmont Stakes Cheat Sheet: Get to Know the Horses

Although there’s not a Triple Crown on the line this year, the 156th Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets is still generating a great deal of excitement. First of all, the $2 million race on Saturday, June 8, will be held for the first time in history at Saratoga Race Course, one of the crown jewel racetracks in the sport. The Belmont moves upstate to “the Spa” while a massive reconstruction project continues at Belmont Park that will not be completed until fall 2025, and the New York Racing Association is making the best of this relocation by turning a four-day span in early June into a fantastic racing festival for fans and horseplayers.

Second, the Belmont Stakes drew an extremely competitive field of 3-year-olds headed by Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve winner Mystik Dan and Preakness Stakes winner Seize the Grey. Due to the move to Saratoga, the Belmont Stakes will be held at 1 ¼ miles on Saratoga’s dirt track, which is 1 1/8 miles in circumference, as opposed to 1 ½ miles on Belmont’s “Big Sandy” dirt track which is that marathon distance around.

So, while the “Test of the Champion” won’t require the same amount of stamina as usual from the winning horse, it still shapes up as a crucial race in a wide-open division that should go a long way toward elevating one colt above the rest as summer begins with important races such as the NYRA Bets Haskell Stakes and the Travers Stakes yet to come.

The Belmont Stakes will air nationwide on FOX and also as part of the “America’s Day at the Belmont” show on FS1, with a scheduled post time of 6:40 p.m. ET.

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Read on for information on all Belmont Stakes contenders and get handicapping insights in ABR’s Cheat Sheet Presented by 1/ST BET.


1. Seize the Grey (8-1 morning-line odds)

Jockey: Jaime Torres

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

Owner: MyRacehorse

Career record: 10 starts – 4 wins – 0 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $1,819,938

Earnings per start: $181,994

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 101

Pedigree: Arrogate – Smart Shopping, by Smart Strike

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After an active 2023 campaign as a 2-year-old and three starts to begin 2024, this colt has emerged as a divisional leader with back-to-back graded stakes wins in the past five weeks. The second of those gave Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas his 15th career win in a Triple Crown race, coming on May 18 when Seize the Grey took the early lead in the Preakness Stakes and never relinquished it in an impressive 2 ¼-length victory over Mystik Dan. Prior to that, the son of late sire Arrogate won the Pat Day Mile Stakes Presented by SAP on the May 4 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve undercard by finishing strong from an early stalking position. Seize the Grey earned a modest 93 Equibase Speed Figure in the Pat Day Mile but boosted it to 101 in the Preakness, which was held on a muddy dirt track at Pimlico. Skeptics might argue that his Preakness win was aided by the off-track conditions and that in his other two-turn races against top competition he hasn’t been much of a factor. There’s also a good chance that Mindframe, Dornoch, and possibly The Wine Steward will be aggressively handled by their respective jockeys and ensure that Seize the Grey and Jaime Torres do not set an uncontested pace Saturday. That being said, Seize the Grey has shown enough versatility in his prior starts to sit back and press the pace or stalk if needed. Like Mystik Dan, this runner will be making his third start in five weeks and could bounce off of his Preakness win. If, instead, he takes another jump in form in the Belmont, he’ll sit atop the 3-year-old division heading into the summer.

Belmont Stakes history: Torres will make his Belmont debut Saturday. Trainer Lukas, on the other hand, will send his 26th horse to the Belmont, having won the race in 1994 (Tabasco Cat), 1995 (Thunder Gulch), 1996 (Editor’s Note), and 2000 (Commendable).

Bet Seize the Grey to win the Belmont Stakes.


2. Resilience (10-1)

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Trainer: Bill Mott

Owners: Emily Bushnell and Ric Waldman

Career record: 7 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $494,630

Earnings per start: $70,661

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 103

Pedigree: Into Mischief – Meadowsweet, by Smart Strike

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott said following Resilience’s sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve that he would bypass the other two legs of the Triple Crown with his colt and plan a campaign around shorter-distance races. However, after Resilience trained well at Saratoga, Mott changed his mind and entered him in Belmont 156, where he could be somewhat overlooked by bettors come post time. In the Kentucky Derby, 31.85-1 longshot Resilience made a six-wide move coming out of the far turn with enough momentum to bring him almost to the front of the field in early stretch. Mystik Dan had made a similar swift move while skimming the rail, however, and Resilience could not sustain his drive in the final sixteenth of a mile while Mystik Dan kept going en route to an upset victory. Resilience finished 7 ¾ lengths back, a decent effort that followed an easy 2 ¼-length score in the Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by Resorts World Casino. Despite Mott’s initial concerns about his charge’s ability to handle a mile and a quarter, Resilience has one of the better pedigrees for going long in the 2024 Belmont field, so if he can elevate his Kentucky Derby Equibase Speed Figure of 99 by about 8-10 points, an upset win is possible.

Belmont Stakes history: Junior Alvarado retains the mount on Resilience after riding him for the first time in the Kentucky Derby; he’ll be making his third start in the Belmont. Mott won this race in 2010 with Drosselmeyer and has a pair of runner-up finishes with Vision and Verse in 1999 and Tacitus in 2019.

Bet Resilience to win the Belmont Stakes.


3. Mystik Dan (5-1)

Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.

Trainer: Ken McPeek

Owners: Lance Gasaway, 4 G Racing, Daniel Hamby III, and Valley View Farm

Career record: 8 starts – 3 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $4,141,360

Earnings per start: $517,670

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 110

Pedigree: Goldencents – Ma’am, by Colonel John

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Kudos are due to trainer Ken McPeek for bringing this emerging fan favorite back for a start in the Belmont Stakes despite there not being a Triple Crown on the line. Mystik Dan is the first Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve winner to start in all three jewels of the Triple Crown without winning the Preakness Stakes since Orb in 2013, as the three colts since then to start in all three races either swept the Triple Crown (American Pharoah in 2015, Justify in 2018) or won the Derby and Preakness only to fall short in the Belmont (California Chrome in 2014). After posting a 18.61-1 upset by a nose over Sierra Leone in the 150th Kentucky Derby, Mystik Dan came back and ran a solid race in the 146th Preakness on May 18, getting in good position to challenge wire-to-wire winner Seize the Grey at the top of the stretch but coming up short by 2 ¼ lengths and holding second by a head over Catching Freedom. It’s reasonable to question whether making a third start in five weeks will be too taxing for this plucky colt, who was all out to win the mile-and-a-quarter Kentucky Derby despite having a pedigree more suited for one mile and 1 1/16-mile races. Mystik Dan received a flawless ride by jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. in the Derby, saving ground for most of the race and shooting up the rail to get the jump on his competitors, so look for Hernandez to attempt a similar trip Saturday evening as horse and rider break from the same post position (no. 3) they had in the Derby.

Belmont Stakes history: Ken McPeek won his first Triple Crown event back in 2002 when Sarava upset the Belmont Stakes at odds of 70.25-1, the longest odds in the race’s history. Brian Hernandez will make his second start in the Belmont; he finished fifth aboard McPeek-trained Creative Minister in 2022.

Bet Mystik Dan to win the Belmont Stakes.


4. The Wine Steward (15-1)

Jockey: Manny Franco

Trainer: Mike Maker

Owners: Paradise Farms Corp. and David Studacher

Career record: 6 starts – 3 wins – 3 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $467,260

Earnings per start: $77,877

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 107

Pedigree: Vino Rosso – Call to Service, by To Honor and Serve

Color: Bay

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This consistent New York-bred colt is still in search of a top-level victory, and if it comes Saturday he’ll be the fourth runner bred in the Empire State to win its most famous race and the first since Tiz the Law in 2020. The Wine Steward has answered the bell in all six of his career starts, winning his first three last year, including two minor stakes, and then finishing 2023 with a half-length loss to Locked in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity in October. He came back after a six-month break and ran huge in the Stonestreet Lexington Stakes April 13, only to finish three-quarters of a length behind pacesetting Encino. The Wine Steward next took a short lead in stretch of the Peter Pan Stakes May 11 but was outfinished by Antiquarian and lost by three-quarters of a length again. Despite being a son of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Vino Rosso, The Wine Steward’s overall career résumé suggests that he may be best suited to races shorter than the mile and a quarter he’ll tackle in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. He’s far too classy a runner to dismiss, however, and his pace-pressing running style should ensure that he plays a role in determining the final outcome of the Belmont even if he doesn’t win. 

Belmont Stakes history: Trainer Mike Maker will make his third Belmont Stakes appearance. Manny Franco won the Belmont Stakes in his very first start in the race, piloting 2020 victor Tiz the Law.

Bet The Wine Steward to win the Belmont Stakes.


5. Antiquarian (12-1)

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Centennial Farms

Career record: 4 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $173,000

Earnings per start: $43,250

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 101

Pedigree: Preservationist – Lifetime Memory, by Istan

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Antiquarian brings “Arcangelo vibes” to Belmont 156. He’s on a similar career trajectory to last year’s Belmont winner, as both colts flashed exciting potential early in their 3-year-old seasons and prepped for the Belmont with wins in the Peter Pan Stakes. Arcangelo then won the Belmont Stakes followed by the Travers Stakes in August and was voted champion 3-year-old male of 2023. That’s a tough bar for Antiquarian to meet, but his victory in the May 11 Peter Pan was visually impressive and he earned a career-top 101 Equibase Speed Figure, nine points higher than the 92 he earned when finishing sixth in the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby in March. That effort at Fair Grounds was better than it appears as he broke through the starting gate before the race but recovered to stalk the pace and stay in contention into the homestretch before tiring. Antiquarian got back on track with a strong closing kick in the Peter Pan, and if he makes a similar jump in speed figures in Saturday’s Belmont he’ll be right in the mix as an upset contender. His pedigree is solid for handling a mile and a quarter as well.

Belmont Stakes history: Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher has three shots at winning his fifth Belmont Stakes with Mindframe and Protective in addition to Antiquarian. Pletcher’s four prior wins came with the filly Rags to Riches (2007), Palace Malice (2013), Tapwrit (2017), and Mo Donegal (2022). Pletcher-trained Forte and Tapit Trice finished second and third, respectively, behind Arcangelo last year. The Centennial Farms partnership led by Don Little Jr. enjoyed a Belmont victory back in 1993 with Colonial Affair. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez has been aboard Antiquarian in all of his starts and has two Belmont victories on his résumé with Rags to Riches and then Union Rags in 2012.

Bet Antiquarian to win the Belmont Stakes.


6. Dornoch (15-1)

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Danny Gargan

Owners: West Paces Racing, R. A. Hill Stable, Belmar Racing and Breeding, Two Eight Racing, and Pine Racing Stables

Career record: 7 starts – 3 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $552,275

Earnings per start: $78,896

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 102

Pedigree: Good Magic – Puca, by Big Brown

Color: Bay

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Earlier this year, Dornoch was among the leading winter-book contenders to win the 150th Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, a status he kept after winning his 3-year-old debut in the Coolmore Fountain of Youth Stakes. Subpar efforts followed, however, in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (fourth by 6 ½ lengths to Sierra Leone) and then the Kentucky Derby (10th by 18 lengths to Mystik Dan), which suggests that this talented colt has reached his ceiling in terms of ability and might need some class relief. He won’t get that on Saturday and will need to author a career-best performance to score the upset in the Belmont Stakes. In Dornoch’s defense, he did draw dreaded post position No. 1 in the Kentucky Derby and encountered traffic trouble twice in the race, especially coming out of the far turn when he was bumped hard and had to check. This colt has done his best running when forwardly placed, so if he breaks clean look for regular jockey Luis Saez to put Dornoch on or close to the early lead. Dornoch certainly has the pedigree to win a mile and a quarter race as a full-brother (same sire [father] and dam [mother]) to 2023 Kentucky Derby winner Mage, but his recent form is suspect.

Belmont Stakes history: This will be trainer Danny Gargan’s second appearance in the Belmont after Tax finished fourth in 2019 for a partnertship that included R. A. Hill Stable. Jockey Luis Saez won the 2021 Belmont aboard Essential Quality.

Bet Dornoch to win the Belmont Stakes.


7. Protective (20-1)

Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Repole Stable

Career record: 4 starts – 0 wins – 1 second – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $121,920

Earnings per start: $30,480

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 98

Pedigree: Medaglia d’Oro – Grace Hall, by Empire Maker

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Closer/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Winless in four career starts, Protective will be one of the longest shots in the 156th Belmont Stakes, if not the longest, when the starting gates open. It’s difficult to envision a scenario where he pulls off the upset, but that being said, his race record fits the profile of a trifecta or superfecta filler quite nicely. In all four of his races, Protective has picked off horses late to hit the board, finishing second in his debut and then third in his subsequent three starts (although he was disqualified to fourth in career start number two back in March for drifting out on the far turn of a one mile and 40-yard allowance race). He showed he belongs in stakes company with back-to-back third-place efforts in his two recent starts, the Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by Resorts World Casino (won by Resilience) followed by the Peter Pan Stakes on May 11 (won by stablemate Antiquarian). This well-bred colt lacks a swift turn of foot, so if the early pace is fast in the Belmont he’s very likely to be outfinished by fellow closers Sierra Leone and Honor Marie. Still, if the race sets up for him he could grind past a few tiring runners and spice up the exotic payouts under first-time jockey Tyler Gaffalione.

Belmont Stakes history: Todd Pletcher, who also starts Antiquarian and Mindframe in the Belmont Stakes, has won this race four times previously, with the filly Rags to Riches (2007), Palace Malice (2013), Tapwrit (2017), and Mo Donegal (2022). Owner Mike Repole was co-owner of Belmont winner Mo Donegal in 2022 with Donegal Racing, and he’s finished second in the classic three times, as sole owner of Stay Thirsty in 2011 and co-owner of Nest in 2022 and Forte last year, each of them trained by Pletcher. Tyler Gaffalione will make his second Belmont start this year.

Bet Protective to win the Belmont Stakes.


8. Honor Marie (12-1)

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Trainer: Whit Beckman

Owners: Ribble Farms, Michael Eiserman, Earl Silver, Kenneth Fishbein, and Dave Fishbein

Career record: 6 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $526,175

Earnings per start: $87,696

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 98

Pedigree: Honor Code – Dame Marie, by Smart Strike

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This colt endured a rough trip in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve and appears primed for a bounce-back effort in Belmont 156. Honor Marie was jostled hard between horses as he exited the Kentucky Derby starting gate, yet still recovered well enough to make a rally through the homestretch and finish eighth of 20, albeit 13 ½ lengths behind winner Mystik Dan. Prior to that, he rallied alongside Catching Freedom in the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby in late March and finished second by a length to that foe. Honor Marie has a fine stamina pedigree and has been training steadily for this race, so he should not be overlooked as an upset candidate and even more so as a horse to use in exacta and trifecta bets. As a deep closer, he’ll need a solid early pace to help his chances, and he’ll also have to outfinish Sierra Leone, who has a similar running style and faster speed figures.

Belmont Stakes history: This will be the first Belmont Stakes appearance for Honor Marie’s ownership group and for trainer Whit Beckman, a former assistant to Todd Pletcher and Chad Brown. Jockey Florent Geroux gets aboard Honor Marie for the first time Saturday. He’ll be making his third Belmont Start with no prior top-three finishes but has won marquee route races at Saratoga before, including last year’s Personal Ensign Stakes aboard champion Idiomatic.

Bet Honor Marie to win the Belmont Stakes.


9. Sierra Leone (9-5)

Jockey: Flavien Prat

Trainer: Chad Brown

Owners: Peter Brant, Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Westerberg, and Brook Smith

Career record: 5 starts – 3 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $1,918,000

Earnings per start: $383,600

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 109

Pedigree: Gun Runner – Heavenly Love, by Malibu Moon

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Despite the presence of Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve winner Mystik Dan and Preakness Stakes winner Seize the Grey in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, Sierra Leone could go off as the post-time favorite. That’s based on both his proven talent as a two-time graded stakes winner and Kentucky Derby runner-up finish, and also on the prospect of him finally fulfilling his potential, which could catapult him to champion-level status. His only two career losses have come by a nose – the first a second-place finish to Dornoch in last December’s Remsen Stakes when Sierra Leone lost focus after taking the lead in deep stretch, and then in the Derby on May 4, when he rallied furiously alongside Japanese invader Forever Young and came up just short to Mystik Dan. Sierra Leone’s race in the Derby has been endlessly scrutinized as it displays his one major weakness: he exchanged bumps with Forever Young in early stretch and then lugged in against that foe, moving several paths to the inside and taking his opponent with him before holding second by a nose in the three-horse photo finish. While Sierra Leone was not disqualified and placed third behind Forever Young (many believe that he should have been), one can make a solid argument that had the colt ran straight he would have won the Kentucky Derby. Even in his wins earlier this year in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes and Risen Star Stakes, Sierra Leone shifted in during the homestretch. It’s a habit that must be changed for this colt to achieve greatness, and trainer Chad Brown has equipped his charge with a new mouth bit and also assigned a new jockey, Flavien Prat, to ride Saturday. Whether or not Sierra Leone responds positively is one of the most intriguing storylines in this year’s Belmont Stakes. He’s a leading win contender regardless.

Belmont Stakes history: Sierra Leone’s large and successful ownership group has had prior Belmont success. Michael Tabor owned 2005 winner Thunder Gulch, Tabor and Derrick Smith campaigned the filly Rags to Riches to victory in 2007, and Susan Magnier owned 2009 runner-up Dunkirk. Chad Brown’s best finish among three prior Belmont starters was in 2018, when Gronkowski finished second to Triple Crown winner Justify. Flavien Prat also counts a runner-up finish as his best among three previous Belmont mounts, that occurring back in 2021 aboard Hot Rod Charlie.

Bet Sierra Leone to win the Belmont Stakes.


10. Mindframe (7-2)

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owners: Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable

Career record: 2 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $87,360

Earnings per start: $43,680

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 108

Pedigree: Constitution – Walk of Stars, by Street Sense

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Unbeaten Mindframe faces a class test in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes coming off of two impressive wins to start his career have helped him secure a position as the 7-2 second betting choice on the morning line. The son of good young sire Constitution debuted in late March at Gulfstream Park in a seven-furlong race and overpowered 10 opponents by rallying from a stalking position and winning by 13 ¾ lengths. He then made his second start on the May 4 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve undercard at Churchill Downs and led from start to finish while trying two turns for the first time in a 1 1/16-mile allowance-optional claiming race, winning by a geared-down 7 ½ lengths. His Equibase Speed Figures of 108 in his debut and then 99 in his second start compare favorably with the leading Belmont Stakes contenders, so lack of experience plus stretching out to 1 ¼ miles are really this colt’s only drawbacks – and they’re big ones. There’s not a lot of early speed lined up in this year’s Belmont Stakes, so it would not be surprising to see jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. be aggressive with Mindframe breaking from the far outside post and have him forwardly placed along with Seize the Grey and Dornoch in the early stages of the race. If Mindframe handles his first stakes assignment, he’ll become the first Maryland-bred to win the Belmont since Caveat in 1983 and only the third in history.

Belmont Stakes history: In addition to Mindframe, Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher sends out Antiquarian and Protective in the Belmont. Pletcher has won the race four times previously, with the filly Rags to Riches (2007), Palace Malice (2013), Tapwrit (2017), and Mo Donegal (2022). Mike Repole and Vincent Viola (St. Elias Stable) teamed up last year to finish second in the Belmont with Forte. Repole finished second as sole owner in the 2011 Belmont with Stay Thirsty and then enjoyed a Belmont win in 2022 with Mo Donegal as co-owner with Donegal Racing and also a second-place finish that year with the filly Nest as part of another group. St. Elias Stable owned 2020 Belmont runner-up Mr Post. Irad Ortiz Jr. has two Belmont wins on his résumé with Creator in 2016 and Mo Donegal two years ago. He rode Forte last year.

Bet Mindframe to win the Belmont Stakes.

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