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Jon White's Final Blog: Dornoch Wins Belmont at Odds of 17-1

by Jon White

June 12, 2024

Upset, upset, upset.

That’s what happened in each of the three Triple Crown races this year.

Mystik Dan won the Kentucky Derby at 18-1. Seize the Grey was victorious in the Preakness Stakes at 9-1. Dornoch got the job done in the Belmont Stakes at 17-1 last Saturday (June 8).

A different winner in each of the three Triple Crown events has become business as usual. This is the sixth straight year in which it’s happened since Justify became this country’s 13th Triple Crown winner in 2018.

This year’s three Triple Crown contests did not turn out well for you if you bet the chalk.

Fierceness ran 15th as the 3-1 favorite in the Kentucky Derby. Mystik Dan finished second as the 2-1 favorite in the Preakness. Sierra Leone had to settle for third as the 8-5 favorite in the Belmont Stakes.

Last Saturday’s 156th running of the $2 million Belmont Stakes lured Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan and Preakness victor Seize the Grey. You have to go back to 2013 for the last time that two different winners of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness clashed in the Belmont.

In 2013, Orb won the Kentucky Derby as the 5-1 favorite. Oxbow was victorious in the Preakness at 15-1. Orb and Oxbow then clashed in the Belmont, but neither won.

Palace Malice won the 2013 Belmont at 13-1. Oxbow ran second. Orb came in third. Palace Malice won the Belmont after having finished 12th in the Kentucky Derby.

Dornoch won the 2024 Belmont after having finished 10th in the Kentucky Derby. Seize the Grey ran seventh in this year’s Belmont, three lengths in front of Mystik Dan in eighth.

Will the 2024 Eclipse Award-winning 3-year-old male champion ultimately be Mystik Dan, Seize the Grey or Dornoch? Or will this year be like 2013 in that the champion in this division is going to be someone who did not win one of the three Triple Crown races?

In 2013, Will Take Charge finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby, seventh in the Preakness and 10th in the Belmont. Yet, despite being soundly defeated in all three legs of the Triple Crown, Will Take Charge went on to accomplish enough during the second half of the year to garner the Eclipse Award as the champion 3-year-old male of 2013.

After the Belmont, Will Take Charge finished second in the Jim Dandy Stakes, won the Travers Stakes, won the Pennsylvania Derby, lost by a scant nose when second to the older Mucho Macho Man in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, then beat older foes when victorious in the Clark Handicap. It was a summer and fall resume that resulted in an Eclipse Award for Will Take Charge.

Looking ahead in 2024, races such as the Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 20, Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 24, Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing on Sept. 21 and Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on Nov. 2 will undoubtedly have a big say in who eventually becomes the Eclipse Award-winning champion 3-year-old male of 2024.

If Dornoch does race before the Travers, he will run in either the Haskell or the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga on July 20, while the Travers is the long-range goal, according to trainer Danny Gargan.

In the last decade, two 3-year-old males were voted the Eclipse Award in their division without having started in a Triple Crown race. They were the great Arrogate in 2016 and West Coast in 2017. Both won the Travers. Both also were trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert.

A couple of Baffert-trained 3-year-olds who could take a run at the 3-year-old male title during the second half of 2024 are Muth and Parenting.

Muth, winner of the Arkansas Derby, was scratched from the Preakness after spiking a temperature. He returned to the work tab Monday (June 10) at Santa Anita, drilling four furlongs in a sharp :47.80.

The plan is for Muth to make his next start in the Haskell. Baffert has won the Haskell a record nine times.

Last Sunday at Santa Anita, Parenting won the Affirmed Stakes for fun. The Kentucky-bred colt by Triple Crown winner Justify looks like he’s the real deal.

When unveiled in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden sprint at Santa Anita on April 26, Parenting vied for the early lead and won by 2 3/4 lengths. He posted an 89 Beyer Speed Figure.

Stretching out to 1 1/16 miles in the Affirmed, a race named in honor of the 1978 Triple Crown winner, Parenting again vied for the early lead and this time powered home to win by a widening 7 1/2 lengths. This sparkling performance produced a 95 Beyer.

Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan was the lone horse this year to run in all three legs of the Triple Crown. He finished second in the Preakness and eighth in the Belmont Stakes.

According to trainer Kenny McPeek, Mystik Dan emerged from the Belmont with mucus, though it wasn’t anything major, being a 2 on a scale of 1 to 5, according to McPeek.

“The title will be decided later in the year and it will be decided on the racetrack,” McPeek was quoted as saying in a BloodHorse article written by Bob Ehalt. “Our goal [for Mystik Dan] is going to be the Travers, Pennsylvania Derby and hopefully the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”

Another outstanding 3-year-old who evidently is targeting the Breeders’ Cup Classic is City of Troy, who recently won the prestigious Epsom Derby. England’s Attheraces.com reported that trainer Aidan O’Brien “has outlined the Breeders’ Cup Classic as the long-term objective” for City of Troy. O’Brien has said that of his 10 Epsom Derby winners, City of Troy is “clearly the best.”

An Attheraces.com article stated: “With his star colt being a son of American Triple Crown hero Justify, connections have long been of the opinion that he could prove as effective on dirt as he is on turf, making him an obvious candidate in O’Brien’s quest to claim an elusive Breeders’ Cup Classic success.

“An early trip across the Atlantic for a first run on dirt in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in late August had been mentioned as a possibility earlier in the year -- and while that plan was ultimately shelved, with owners Coolmore instead targeting that race with Kentucky Derby runner-up and Belmont Stakes third Sierra Leone, O’Brien remains keen on a Classic bid come the autumn.”

It’s exciting to contemplate the possibility of City of Troy showing up at Del Mar on Nov. 2 for either the $7 million Breeders’ Cup Classic or the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Turf. At the moment, Oddschecker.com has City of Troy listed as the 8-1 favorite for the Classic. The website does not have early odds for the Turf.


Attempting to pick the winner in each of this year’s three Triple Crown races was an exercise in futility for yours truly.

In my selections for Xpressbet.com, I did have the right idea in trying to beat the favorite in all three races. But when the series was over, my top pick was 0 for 3.

What was so darn frustrating for me was Forever Young, my top choice in the Kentucky Derby, lost by two noses when finishing third at odds of 7-1. And then Mindframe, my top pick in the Belmont, lost by only a half-length when finishing second at odds of 5-1.


Dornoch kicked off his 3-year-old campaign with a 1 3/4-length victory in the Fountain of Youth Stakes on March 2. Yes, he won. And, yes, he recorded a 90 Beyer Speed Figure. Nevertheless, many were unimpressed. Dornoch’s performance was viewed as being tainted by many observers because the race was decimated by the scratches of Locked, Speak Easy, Victory Avenue and Merit.

Gargan’s original plan for Dornoch in the Fountain of Youth was to see if the colt would be amenable to being rated off the early lead. But after the plethora of scratches, Gargan wisely changed his strategy. He told jockey Luis Saez to be aggressive and go right to the lead out of the gate. The rider obliged.

In the Blue Grass, Gargan felt the time now was right to find out if Dornoch could be rated early. This time the rider restrained Dornoch a couple of lengths off the pace. The game plan backfired. Dornoch did not like rating tactics and finished fourth, 6 1/2 lengths behind the victorious Sierra Leone.

For Dornoch, the Kentucky Derby turned out to be a mess. He found himself all the way back in 13th in the early going after failing to break alertly from the inside post. Being so far behind in the early stages was disastrous for a horse who prefers to race on or slightly off the pace. To make matters worse, Dornoch “was shuffled back in traffic inside the half-mile marker, came again between foes, was bumped and checked hard off heels near the quarter pole, angled out into the stretch but came up empty in the drive,” according to the Equibase chart.

After the Belmont, Gargan said: “I got him beat in the Blue Grass; the one hole got him beat in the Derby.”

All Gargan wanted for Dornoch in the Belmont was to see his charge have a fair chance. And this time that happened.

After Dornoch left the gate in good order, Saez hustled him to ensure that the colt would be a pace factor. Dornoch raced just a half-length off pacesetting Seize the Grey through the early furlongs. The preliminary fractions were :22.99 for the opening quarter-mile :47.25 for the half, then 1:10.67 for six furlongs.

Dornoch put his head in front on the far turn when approaching the quarter pole. In upper stretch, he began drawing away from Seize the Grey. But then, just as soon as Dornoch had put away Seize the Grey, on came the inexperienced Mindframe to take on Dornoch.

When Dornoch and Mindframe were nearing the eighth pole, track announcer Frank Mirahmadi said the following during his terrific call of the race: “Mindframe on the outside is coming after Dornoch. And it’s Mindframe and Dornoch head-and-head with a furlong left to go. Sierra Leone is closing ground. It’s Dornoch hugging the rail, Mindframe, a little erratic, but he’s still right there with Dornoch in an absolute thriller. Dornoch and Mindframe. It will be Dornoch and Luis Saez to win the Belmont Stakes at Saratoga!”

When Mindframe poked his head in front at the furlong pole, it looked like he might be on his way to a Grade I Belmont Stakes win in only his third career start. But Dornoch did not throw in the towel. Dornoch and Mindframe battled furiously all the way to the finish.

Dornoch prevailed by a half-length while completing his 1 1/4-mile journey 2:01.64.

This year’s Belmont Stakes -- the first ever run at Saratoga due to Belmont Park currently being under construction -- was contested at 1 1/4 miles rather than at its traditional distance of 1 1/2 miles. The decision was made to shorten the distance of the Belmont to 1 1/4 miles this year as opposed to having to start the race on a turn, which would have been necessary in order to run a 1 1/2-mile dirt race at Saratoga.

About halfway down the stretch, Mindframe veered out sharply when jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. was employing a left-handed crop. The rider then switched sticks and used it right-handed the rest of the way. Mindframe’s greenness in the lane owing to his lack of experience was on full display.

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher said of Mindframe: “It’s just his third race and first time at this distance. First time he’s really been challenged [after two dominant wins]; all the things we were concerned about. If he could have run a straight course down the lane, that would have been the difference. Irad felt like [Mindframe] just lost that little bit of focus. He was still coming at the end. It verifies what we thought of him.

“We’re super proud of the race he ran and the effort that he gave. He showed his talent was what we thought it was going in and, aside from winning, he did remarkably well.”

Indeed, for the lightly raced Mindframe to come so close to a Belmont Stakes victory in his stakes debut with just two races under his belt was a huge effort.

If Mindframe had run straight in the stretch, would he have won? Maybe. Maybe not. This was not the first time that Dornoch has won a race after being headed during the stretch run.

In the 1 1/8-mile Remsen Stakes on a muddy track at Aqueduct last Dec. 2, Sierra Leone rallied from 10th and headed Dornoch a furlong from the finish. But Dornoch resolutely came back on to win by a nose.

When I was going to the races in the 1970s at tracks in the Pacific Northwest, I loved betting on a horse who had shown the ability to get headed and come back on to win, even in the lower-level claiming ranks. I cashed a lot of tickets with that angle.

As for Sierra Leone in the Belmont, it’s true that he broke awkwardly and was banged around in the initial strides. But I don’t believe it was any big deal because Sierra Leone was next-to-last early in the field of 10, about nine lengths off the pace, which is where he typically would have been anyway.

While Sierra Leone was in the process of rallying strongly, he suddenly got bumped at the top of the lane when Protective, a maiden at odds of 19-1, came out. Admittedly, that didn’t help Sierra Leone any. After that, as is his wont, Sierra Leone lugged inward through the middle portion of the stretch run. While lugging in, Sierra Leone actually cut off Protective. Sierra Leone’s lugging in did occur despite the fact that he was racing with a new bit, an equipment change that had been made with the goal of having him run straight, which didn’t happen.

It also didn’t help Sierra Leone that his running style is to come from far off the pace and the main track at Saratoga on Saturday seemed to be playing kind to horses with early speed.

The Fox Sports broadcast did not show the gallop-out of the Belmont Stakes. When watching the race live, I noticed that Sierra Leone was gaining with gusto in the final yards. He finished 1 1/2 lengths behind Dornoch and one length behind Mindframe.

The late energy exhibited by Sierra Leone led me to surmise that he probably galloped out the best. Trainer Chad Brown would say later that Sierra Leone galloped out in front.

But when I subsequently checked out the replay of the NYRA simulcast broadcast, which did a wonderful job of showing the gallop-out, I saw that it actually was Dornoch who galloped out the best. He galloped out far in front. And to Mindframe’s credit, he was well in front of Sierra Leone on the gallop-out.


As a 2-year-old in 1994, Thunder Gulch won the Remsen Stakes. Thunder Gulch the following year won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes while on his way to an Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old male.

However, from 1996 through 2020, not a single Remsen winner went on to finish first in a Triple Crown race.

And then Mo Donegal won the Remsen in 2021 before capturing the Belmont Stakes in 2022.

As mentioned earlier, Dornoch won last year’s Remsen by a nose over Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone narrowly missed winning this year’s Kentucky Derby, losing by a nose to Mystik Dan.

And last Saturday, Dornoch joined Mo Donegal as a Belmont Stakes winner.


For Gargan, Dornoch’s Belmont Stakes was the 53-year-old conditioner’s first Grade I victory.

“It’s a big thing just to be able to be in this kind of race, much less have the kind of horse to win,” Gargan said. “So it is special.”

Dornoch provided 32-year-old Saez with his second Belmont Stakes victory. Saez won the 2021 renewal aboard Essential Quality.


Dornoch was credited with a 101 Beyer Speed Figure for his Belmont Stakes win. This represented a substantial jump from his previous top Beyer of 91, which he received for his win in last year’s Remsen.

Mindframe boasted the best Beyer going into the Belmont, a 103 at first asking. That was followed by a 97 in his second start. Mindframe received a 101 Beyer for his fine try in the Belmont.

One of the reasons I was willing to try and beat Sierra Leone as the likely favorite was that his top Beyer Speed Figure going into the Belmont was his 99 in the Kentucky Derby. I thought Sierra Leone probably would need to step up and run a triple-digit Beyer in the Belmont in order to win it. And Sierra Leone did prove a vulnerable favorite by recording another 99 Beyer in the Belmont.

Below are Beyer Speed Figures for winners of the Belmont going back to 1990 (the first year they were listed in the American Racing Manual):

2024 Dornoch (101)*
2023 Arcangelo (102)
2022 Mo Donegal (98)
2021 Essential Quality (109)
2020 Tiz the Law (100)+
2019 Sir Winston (95)
2018 Justify (101)
2017 Tapwrit (103)
2016 Creator (99)
2015 American Pharoah (105)
2014 Tonalist (100)
2013 Palace Malice (98)
2012 Union Rags (96)
2011 Ruler On Ice (100)
2010 Drosselmeyer (94)
2009 Summer Bird (100)
2008 Da’ Tara (99)
2007 Rags to Riches (107)
2006 Jazil (102)
2005 Afleet Alex (106)
2004 Birdstone (101)
2003 Empire Maker (110)
2002 Sarava (105)
2001 Point Given (114)
2000 Commendable (101)
1999 Lemon Drop Kid (109)
1998 Victory Gallop (110)
1997 Touch Gold (110)
1996 Editor’s Note (106)
1995 Thunder Gulch (101)
1994 Tabasco Cat (106)
1993 Colonial Affair (104)
1992 A.P. Indy (111)
1991 Hansel (111)
1990 Go and Go (111)

*Run at 1 1/4 miles
+Run at 1 1/8 miles

Secretariat’s 1973 Belmont predates published Beyer Speed Figures. Andy Beyer once wrote that he retroactively calculated what Secretariat’s figure would have been for the Belmont. It would have been a 139.


Dornoch is a Kentucky-bred son of Good Magic and Puca.

Good Magic won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as a maiden at 2 and finished second at 3 to Justify in the Kentucky Derby.

Society Man, another Good Magic colt, won the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs the day after this year’s Belmont Stakes. Gargan trains Society Man.

Good Magic also is the sire of the aforementioned Muth, a multiple Grade I winner.

Puca is the dam of last year’s Kentucky Derby winner, Mage, a full brother to this year’s Belmont Stakes winner.

Only nine broodmares in American racing history have produced a pair of Triple Crown race winners. They are:

--Puca (2023 Derby winner Mage, 2024 Belmont winner Dornoch)

--Better Than Honour (2006 Belmont winner Jazil, 2007 Belmont winner Rags to Riches)

--Weekend Surprise (1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall, 1992 Belmont winner A.P. Indy)

--Prudery (1927 Derby winner Whiskery, 1928 Preakness winner Victorian)

--Leisure (1908 Preakness winner Royal Tourist, 1914 Preakness winner Holiday)

--Ignite (1900 Preakness winner Hindus, 1906 Derby winner Sir Huon)

--Lady Margaret (1896 Preakness winner Margrave, 1902 Belmont winner Masterman)

--Cinderella (1896 Belmont winner Hastings, 1898 Derby winner Plaudit)

--Maggie B.B. (1979 Preakness winner Harold, 1884 Belmont winner Panique)

By winning the Belmont Stakes, Dornoch did what grandsires Curlin and Big Brown were unable to do in this important race.

Curlin, coming off a victory in the Preakness, narrowly lost the 2007 Belmont. He finished second to Rags to Riches. Even though Rags to Riches stumbled at the start and experienced a wide trip, she edged Curlin by a head. Rags to Riches became the first filly to win the Belmont in over 100 years.

Big Brown was five for five and seeking a Triple Crown sweep going into the 2008 Belmont, but he was eased in the stretch.

In my 2008 Belmont Stakes recap for Xpressbet.com, I wrote the following:

“ ‘Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport…the thrill of victory…and the agony of defeat.’

“From 1961 to 1998, Jim McKay spoke those words each Saturday at the beginning of ABC’s ‘Wild World of Sports.’

“How ironic that last Saturday, just a few hours after McKay passed away, we certainly saw an ideal illustration of ‘the thrill of victory’ and ‘the agony of defeat’ in the Belmont Stakes.

“The thrill of victory was quite evident on the faces of jockey Alan Garcia, owner Robert LaPenta, trainer Nick Zito and anyone who wagered on Da’ Tara. A winner of only one race from seven lifetime starts going into the Belmont, Da’ Tara was the longest shot in the race at 38-1. In fact, bettors had such little regard for Da’ Tara that even a maiden, Guadalcanal, was a shorter price at 25-1.

“And, of course, the agony of defeat was quite evident on the faces of jockey Kent Desormeaux, owner Michael Iavarone of IEAH Stables, trainer Rick Dutrow and anyone who bet on heavy favorite Big Brown at 3-10. Going into the Belmont Stakes, Big Brown had won all five of his career starts by a combined 39 lengths. But the dream of Triple Crown immortality by Big Brown’s connections became a horrible nightmare. Big Brown was eased, making it the worst finish in the history of the Belmont by a horse going for a Triple Crown sweep.”


Former major league baseball player Jayson Werth has hit a home run in Thoroughbred racing as one of the owners of $325,000 auction purchase Dornoch.

During a 15-year MLB career, Werth played for my favorite team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, from 2004 to 2006. He earned a World Series ring when with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2007.

Werth, whose stable name is Two Eight Racing (representing his uniform number), was over the moon following Dornoch’s victory in the Belmont Stakes.

“I’ll put this up there with anything I’ve ever done,” said Werth, looking like a member of a 1970s rock band with his long hair, beard and dark sunglasses. “This is the top of sports. Horse racing is the most underrated sport there is. This is as big as it gets. [It’s like] the emotions you feel when you play in a playoff game, when you win a World Series, it is the top of sports, and this is where we’re at.”

Also involved in the ownership of Dornach are R.A. Hill Racing Stables, West Paces Racing, Pine Racing Stables and Belmar Racing and Breeding.


The final race at Golden Gate Fields has been run. It took place last Sunday (June 9) and was won by Adelie, ridden by Assael Espinoza and trained by Phil D’Amato.

The very last horse to cross the finish line in a Golden Gate Fields race was Sareeha, who ended up seventh in that allowance/optional claimer at one mile on the grass course.

Regarding Sareeha, the Equibase chart states: “SAREEHA (IRE) sprinted to the front, was joined by TURA LURA before the turn, dueled [with] that foe through rapid fractions with the rider at first trying to temper the pace then committing to the lead, held sway to the far turn then began to shorten strides turning for home and was not persevered with late when hopelessly beaten, and became the last horse to cross the finish line to close out eighty-four years of racing at Golden Gate Fields. GOOD NIGHT, EVERYBODY.”

Espinoza won the riding title at the very last Golden Gate meeting, while Steve Sherman topped the final trainer standings.

“What a way to end the meeting,” the 24-year-old Espinoza said after his victory on Adelie. “Since the entries came out, I thought, ‘That’s my win. The last race will be mine.’ I have so many great memories here.”

I have my own fond memories of Golden Gate Fields. I’m especially thankful for the opportunity and honor to have twice worked as a steward there for the California Horse Racing Board.

The absolutely gorgeous view at Golden Gate Fields is something that I will never forget. The Bay Area venue will forever be one of my favorites among the 55 different tracks that I have visited all over the world.


The NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll continues weekly until the Monday after the Nov. 1-2 Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar.

Below is the Top 10 in this week’s NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll

Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)

1. 316 National Treasure (25)
2. 265 Senor Buscador (4)
3. 196 Idiomatic (2)
4. 150 First Mission (1)
5. 145 Adare Manor
6. 136 Master of The Seas (1)
7. 90 Randomized
8. 68 Cogburn
9. 59 The Chosen Vron
10. 55 Didia


With a different 3-year-old male winning this year’s three Triple Crown races, the filly Thorpedo Anna tops the final 2024 NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll following victories in the Fantasy Stakes by four lengths, Kentucky Oaks by 4 3/4 lengths and Acorn Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths.

Below is the final NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll for 2024:

Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)

1. 265 Thorpedo Anna (20)
2. 259 Mystik Dan (9)
3. 241 Dornoch (2)
4. 218 Sierra Leone (1)
5. 188 Seize the Grey
6. 140 Mindframe (1)
7. 125 Forever Young
8. 114 Muth
9. 73 Catching Freedom
10. 68 Book’em Danno

Inasmuch as this is the final NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll for 2024, these were the other horses receiving votes this week: Fierceness (30 points), Honor Marie (22), Nysos (20), Prince of Monaco (18), Stronghold (10), Endlessly (5), Parenting (5), Imagination (4), Encino (3), Leslie’s Rose (3), Candied (2), Eagles Flight (1), Maymun (1), Society Man (1).




I will be retiring as the morning line-maker for Santa Anita and Del Mar after the current Santa Anita meeting ends this Sunday (June 16).

And after two decades, this is my final column/blog for Xpressbet.com.

First, thanks if you have read any of what I’ve written for Xpressbet.com all these years.

Second, I want to thank John DeSantis, who in the fall of 2004 asked me to write a weekly column for Xpressbet.com. Little did I know at the time that I would continue doing this for Xpressbet.com, week after week after week, from 2004 to 2024. I must admit it’s going to be kind of weird not having to think of something to write about each week for Xpressbet.com. Just coming up with something to write about week after week wasn’t easy.

And third, I’d like to thank my current Xpressbet.com editor, Jeremy Plonk, for the excellent job he has done in this role. I am also appreciative of the kind words regarding my retirement from both Plonk and Jeff Siegel on their podcast “It’s Official” this week.

For Xpressbet.com, I have tried to pick some winners, while weaving in some of racing’s rich history.

I feel that one of the highlights in terms of the furlongs of copy that I have written for Xpressbet.com through the years was to make I’ll Have Another my top pick in the 2012 Kentucky Derby. He paid $32.60 for a $2 win wager.

Also for Xpressbet.com, before the 2015 Kentucky Derby, I successfully predicted that American Pharoah would end a 37-year Triple Crown drought. Three years later, again before the Kentucky Derby, I not only wrote that Justify reminded me of Seattle Slew, I correctly predicted that Justify would sweep the Triple Crown.

Speaking of Justify, I am especially proud of my Xpressbet.com recap of his Belmont Stakes triumph, a column for which I received the 2018 Joe Hirsch Memorial Writing Award from the New York Racing Association. To receive that award meant a lot because Hirsch was a mentor to me during my many years as a writer for the Daily Racing Form.

Below are the final two paragraphs from that award-winning Xpressbet.com column:

“Justify now is odds-on to be the 2018 Horse of the Year. He also is a cinch to make Baffert the first trainer in history to train four consecutive Eclipse Award-winning 3-year-old males (American Pharoah in 2015, Arrogate in 2016, West Coast in 2017, Justify in 2018).

“Baffert has referred to American Pharoah as being an equine version of Michael Jordan, while saying Justify is LeBron James. But while James’ Cleveland Cavaliers were swept by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals last week, Justify did complete a Triple Crown sweep with his front-running victory in the Belmont Stakes. And it is a slam-dunk that the ride Justify took Thoroughbred racing on from his career debut on Feb. 18 to Triple Crown glory on June 9 will long be remembered.”