Dornoch with Luis Saez aboard wins the 156th running of the Belmont Stakes at Saratoga Race Course

New York (AFP) - Dornoch won the 156th Belmont Stakes on Saturday, jockey Luis Saez piloting the 17-1 longshot to victory in the third jewel in US flat racing’s Triple Crown at Saratoga Race Course.

“It was perfect,” Saez said after Dornoch held off a challenge from Mindframe in the final straight.

Sierra Leone, the Kentucky Derby runner-up, was third.

Trainer Danny Gargan claimed a first Triple Crown race win while Saez earned his second Belmont victory. The Panamanian won in 2021 aboard Essential Quality.

This year’s edition had a different feel, having shifted to the track in Saratoga Springs because of renovations at Belmont Park.

Usually run over 1 12-miles on the sweeping Belmont Park track, the race was run over 1 14 miles.

It marked the sixth straight year that a different horse won each of the Triple Crown races.

Mystik Dan triumphed in the Kentucky Derby on May 4 and Seize the Grey won the Preakness three weeks ago and their potential duel stirred interest in Saturday’s race even without the coveted treble on the line.

Seize the Grey, trained by D.Wayne Lukas and ridden by Jaime Torres, broke from the inside post and moved to the front.

But Saez brought Dornoch through on the inside for an unassailable late run – a satisfying victory after the colt settled for 10th place after a bumpy run in the Kentucky Derby.

“He’s one of the top 3-year-olds in the country, and we’ve always thought it,” Gargan said of the horse co-owned by former World Series champion Jason Werth.

“We let him run his race and he won. If he gets to run, he’s always going to be tough to beat.”