#US RACING: Kentucky Derby Runner-Up Sierra Leone Belmont Favourite

Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone

Preakness winner Seize the Grey drew post position No. 1 on Monday, and Kentucky Derby champion Mystik Dan will start in post No. 3 for the Belmont Stakes taking place Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.

Kenny McPeek-trained Mystik Dan, who finished second in the Preakness, is the only horse in the field for all three Triple Crown races. At 5-1 and being ridden again by Brian Hernandez Jr., he is the third choice behind favourite Sierra Leone, who opened at 9-5, and Mindframe at 7-2.

McPeek favoured his inside post position, and Mystik Dan co-owner Lance Gasaway had his eye on the No. 3 post.

"Lance Gasaway sent me a message this morning, 'Go there and get post No. 3,'" McPeek said. "He said it's his lucky number, I guess. We're thrilled with that. I think that was great. It's out of our control now. It's up to Brian."

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas' Seize the Grey is right behind Mystik Dan with 8-1 odds after a wire-to-wire win in the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Sierra Leone, who drew the No. 9 post position in the 10-horse field, was second in the Derby, losing to Mystik Dan by a nose. Trainer Chad Brown hopes to get a similar run out of the horse this time, with a jockey change to Flavien Prat.

"He bounced out of the Derby, which can obviously be a tough race on horses," Brown said. "He's bounced out well. ... He's trained really good here. Just hoping for a good trip. Obviously, we have half as many horses to run down, so that should be hopefully a little easier on him."

Brown has had success with Prat onboard.

"Hopefully Flavien can sort of survey the inside and just pick his spot where he wants to be in the first turn and just be prepared for him," Brown said. "As long as we're prepared for him and he runs straight, he should run big."

Trainer Todd Pletcher is saddling the most horses in the 1 1/4-mile race at Saratoga. His trio of colts is led by undefeated Mindframe, who will start from the outside No. 10 post. Mindframe's resume is short with just two starts and two wins, but it was enough to push him ahead of the Preakness and Kentucky Derby champions in the odds.

"He's a very talented colt," Pletcher said. "His two races have been very impressive. … Of course, we're giving up a lot of seasoning, a lot of experience to some really good horses, so that's the main concern."

Pletcher also has No. 5 Antiquarian (12-1) and No. 7 Protective (20-1).

"He needs to continue to move forward," Pletcher said. "We think he'll appreciate the added distance: the first opportunity to run a mile and a quarter. He shows up, he tries hard every time."



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