Some of the best 3-year-old horses in the country are set to face off on Saturday, June 11th, in the 154th running of the Belmont Stakes.
The $1.5 million, 1 ½-mile race called the Test of the Champion serves as the final leg of the Triple Crown and also regularly attracts the most accomplished jockeys in the country — each of them vying for Victory in one of U.S. horse racing’s classic races.
Let’s take a look at the riders who’ll be competing in this year’s Belmont Stakes in order of Post Position.
#1 WE THE PEOPLE. Flavien Prat. Age: 29. Previous Belmont Rides: 1. Best Finish: 2nd in 2021 with HOT ROD CHARLIE. Flavien Prat rode in his first Belmont Stakes last year and he nearly Won the race aboard HOT ROD CHARLIE. The only race missing from his personal career Triple Crown is the Belmont Stakes. He’ll try to make it happen on Saturday when he rides Peter Pan Stakes Winner WE THE PEOPLE.
#2 SKIPPYLONGSTOCKING. Manny Franco. Age: 26. Previous Belmont Rides: 2. Best Finish: Won in 2020 with TIZ THE LAW. Manny Franco has made a steady rise to the upper echelon of jockeys on the NYRA circuit over the past several years. Franco enjoyed success with his first Belmont Stakes mount in 2020, riding TIZ THE LAW to Victory in the 152nd running that, in an unprecedented turn of events due to COVID-19, led off the Triple Crown series and was shortened to 1 1/8 miles. SKIPPYLONGSTOCKING enters this year’s renewal off of a 5th-place finish in the Preakness Stakes.
#3 NEST. Jose Ortiz. Age: 28. Previous Belmont Rides: 7. Best Finish: Won in 2017 with TAPWRIT. The younger brother of jockey Irad, Jose comes into this year’s Belmont off a Victory in the Preakness aboard EARLY VOTING. Since that horse isn’t entered in the Belmont, Jose is slated to ride a horse that his brother had previously been aboard — the lone filly in this year’s Belmont Stakes– NEST. She figures to be well supported off of her 2nd-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks last month. In 2017 he led the nation in purse earnings with more than $27.3 million and Won the Belmont Stakes aboard TAPWRIT. Jose has spent his entire career based in New York where he’s Won a dozen riding titles.
#4 RICH STRIKE. Sonny Leon. Age: 32. Previous Belmont Rides: 0 Best Finish: N/A. Sonny Leon pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Kentucky Derby history when he guided RICH STRIKE to Victory at odds of 80-1. In the days leading up to (and following) his Win in the $3-million race, Leon rode in races on smaller-circuit tracks with purses averaging about $10,000 per race — which made his Derby success along with RICH STRIKE seem all the more improbable. Leon and RICH STRIKE aren’t an unknown commodity anymore and there will be plenty of attention focused on them when they enter the starting gate for the Belmont Stakes.
#5 CREATIVE MINISTER. Brian Hernandez Jr. Age: 36. Previous Belmont Rides: 0. Best Finish: N/ABrian Hernandez Jr. will be making his first start in the Belmont Stakes but he’s no stranger to the big stage, having Won over 60 Graded Stakes races. Hernandez comes into this year’s Belmont Stakes off of his best placing in a Triple Crown race after finishing 3rd aboard CREATIVE MINISTER in the Preakness on May 21st. He’ll be aboard CREATIVE MINISTER once again in the Belmont hoping to prance him around in the Winner’s Circle this time around.
#6 MO DONEGAL. Irad Ortiz Jr. Age: 29. Previous Belmont Rides: 7. Best Finish: Won in 2016 with CREATOR. Irad Ortiz Jr. scored a surprise Victory in the 2016 edition of the Belmont Stakes aboard CREATOR at odds of 16-1. The real surprise being the final odds, since Ortiz is usually on the favorite in big races as he’s widely regarded as the best rider in North America. When it comes to riding in New York, Ortiz has compiled an astounding record which includes more than 20 riding titles. He’s well positioned to add to his resume on Saturday when he rides one of the expected favorites in the Belmont Stakes. His mount- MO DONEGAL Won the Wood Memorial Stakes in April before finishing a strong 5th in the Kentucky Derby.
#7 GOLDEN GLIDER. Dylan Davis. Age: 27. Previous Belmont Rides: 0. Best Finish: N/A. For a New York-native who has ridden almost exclusively in the state since launching his career in 2012, Davis is certainly aware of the magnitude of the moment as he prepares to ride in his first Belmont Stakes. Dylan has Won more than 1,000 races at just 27 years of age and Won his first career Grade 1 race in 2021, taking the E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine aboard MUTAMAKINA. He will likely fly under the radar at the window Saturday riding GOLDEN GLIDER in the Belmont Stakes. The horse recently finished 2nd in the Peter Pan Stakes. Davis is the youngest jockey riding in this year’s Belmont Stakes.
#8 BARBER ROAD. Joel Rosario. Age: 37. Previous Belmont Rides: 10. Best Finish: Won in 2019 with SIR WINSTON and 2014 with TONALIST. Joel Rosario has made the most of his opportunities in the Belmont Stakes and has proven himself a reliable rider on the biggest days and on the biggest stages in racing. He Won the Kentucky Derby in 2013 aboard ORB and has collected 15 Wins in Breeders’ Cup races. Rosario will go for a third Belmont Stakes Victory on Saturday when he takes over the mount on BARBER ROAD. He’ll be aboard the horse for the first time after BARBER ROAD finished a rallying 6th in the Kentucky Derby under jockey Rey Gutierrez.
On Friday the Daily Racing Blog will take a closer look at the field for this year’s edition of the Belmont Stakes. So stop back and see who we like.