The American Triple Crown wrapped on June 8 with another longshot winner as DORNOCH, the full brother to 2023 Kentucky Derby winner Mage, posted a 17-to-1 score in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets at Saratoga, which was hosting the race while Belmont is being rebuilt. The Belmont Stakes was shortened this year to 1 1/4 miles from 1 1/2 miles  and was part of a four-day festival. Over $123 million was wagered on the 14-race Saturday.

For Dornoch, a son of Good Magic trained by Danny Gargan for a host of owners including World Series-winning baseball star Jayson Werth, it was a redeeming run by the handsome colt who won the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park in March but had landed fourth in the Blue Grass (G1) and a troubled 10th in the Kentucky Derby.

Meeting Derby winner Mystik Dan, Preakness winner Seize the Grey and the bold stretch-runner Sierra Leone in the Belmont, Dornoch, with Luis Saez riding, ran the race of his life, tracking pacesetter Seize the Grey before taking over into the stretch and holding off lightly-raced Mindframe to win in 2:01.64 for a 100 Beyer Figure according to Daily Racing Form.

Sierra Leone lugged in through the stretch and finished well for third while another stretch runner, Honor Marie, rallied for fourth.

The Saratoga main track was arguably speed-favouring throughout the day, making it tough for horses to rally from off the pace.

Dormoch’s win was the biggest for trainer Gargan, who won the Jim Dandy Stakes with Tax a few years ago. Gargan bid on Mage at the Keeneland September sale in 2021 but didn’t get him and instead got Dornoch the following year for $325,000 with partner Megan Jones. He put a partnership together of West Paces Racing, R. A. Hill Stable, Belmar Racing and Breeding, Two Eight Racing (Werth) and Pine Racing Stables.

“I’m still just taking it in. It’s pretty exciting,” Gargan said. “It’s a special thing just to be a part of these races, not to mention to win one with a horse you bought at Keeneland and have had it for its whole [racing] life. I spend so much time with him and my staff has done such a great job with him.”

Gargan said he is thankful for the strong-willed Dornoch, and gave credit to longtime clients Dean Reeves and Randy Hill for their support in the early years of his career, the latter of which is the namesake of winning co-owner R.A. Hill Stable.

“He’s not an easy horse to train and it’s not easy to get in this kind of situation,” said Gargan. “I’ve been blessed to have the right owners. Randy has been with me since the beginning. He and Dean Reeves wanted me to start training two-year-olds and focus on them instead of the claiming game, and I have to thank them.”

Hill expressed equal emotion towards the memorable victory.

“Nobody ever wake me up. I’ll be damn mad. Let me keep dreaming,” Hill said. “I said to my partners, to Danny and Luis, ‘Let’s run our race today, let’s get the lead, and if anybody can beat us, let them come and get us.’”

Werth (see video below) landed into horse ownership a couple of years ago. He pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies when they won the 2008 World Series.

To Fox Sports he said, “I would put it right up there with winning at the biggest stage. Horse racing is the most underrated sport in the world, bar none. It’s the biggest game, you’ve got the Derby, the Preakness, the Belmont. We just won the Belmont. This is as good as it gets in horse racing, this is as good as it gets in sports.”

He bought 10 percent of Dornoch while sitting at the bar at the Keeneland sale in 2022.

The three-year-old crop in the U.S. will now disperse to other parts of the country. Some may stay for the Travers in August at Saratoga. Mystik Dan looked tired as he faded in the Belmont and Seize the Grey was no doubt regressing off his big Preakness effort. Mindgame could be any kind of horse and will be fun to watch.