Belmont Stakes 2024 betting odds and predictions: Mystik Dan and Seize the Grey face off against tough field in Saratoga

two horses training ahead of the Belmont Stakes
Sierra Leone (inside) training with Domestic Product at Saratoga Race Course’s Oklahoma training track ahead of the Belmont Stakes.
NYRA/Adam Coglianese

There are many firsts in this Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, the least of which is that two different winners of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes will face each other in the Triple Crown’s third leg for the first time in 11 years.

And as Mystik Dan and Seize the Grey try to take two-thirds of the Triple Crown against a tough field, they will be doing so at Saratoga Race Course, which will be hosting the Belmont Stakes for the very first time. The Belmont Stakes was moved to New York’s summer racing home for the 2024 and 2025 runnings due to the ongoing reconstruction of Belmont Park on the Queens/Nassau border.

The venue change also necessitated another first for the Belmont Stakes: a shortening of the race distance to 1 1/4 miles from its traditional 1 1/2 miles. It will mark the first time the race will be run at 10 furlongs, matching the Kentucky Derby distance, since 1905. The race had been run at 1 1/2 miles every year since 1926, save for the pandemic-impacted 2020 running at 1 1/8 miles when the Belmont Stakes wound up being run as the Triple Crown’s first leg.

Preakness Stakes winner Seize the Grey ahead of Belmont Stakes
Preakness Stakes winner Seize the Grey and jockey Jaime Torres will look to take two-thirds of the Triple Crown in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Upwards of 50,000 people are expected to be on hand at Saratoga this Saturday for the Belmont Stakes. Eight other horses will enter the starting gate with Mystik Dan and Seize the Gray looking to spoil their two-thirds bid, including Sierra Leone, the Kentucky Derby runner-up who was nosed out by Mystik Dan; Resilience, the Wood Memorial winner at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens who finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby; and two horses owned by Queens native Mike Repole: Protective, third in the Peter Pan Stakes at Aqueduct; and Mindframe, who enters the Belmont Stakes off a dominant allowance win at Gulfstream Park in Florida.

The Belmont Stakes
Saturday, June 8
Saratoga Race Course, Saratoga Springs, NY
Distance: 1 1/4 Miles
Conditions: 3-year-old colts and geldings
Purse: $2 million
Post Time: 6:47 p.m. ET
Television: Fox

The Field

Morning line odds via New York Racing Association

How it may shake out

Mystik Dan training for Belmont Stakes
Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan training for the Belmont Stakes at Saratoga Race Course’s Oklahoma training track.NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Handicapping this year’s 1 1/4-mile Belmont Stakes is much like handicapping the Kentucky Derby, albeit with a field half the size as that which took to the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. To win, you’ll need speed and stamina to get the distance, and an early speed duel can easily crush a frontrunner’s hopes.

Conditions are ideal for an early speed duel on par with the Kentucky Derby, with Dornoch, Seize the Grey, The Wine Steward and Mindframe all likely to head to the front early. Mystik Dan will settle into the midpack as usual, while Honor Marie and Sierra Leone will do their best running from far back.

The race sets up well for closers like Sierra Leone, Honor Marie and Mystik Dan — who has proven to be one game horse who never seems to put in a bad race, and even with this being his third race in six weeks (a very unusual standard in today’s thoroughbred racing world), he doesn’t look like he’ll run out of gas this Saturday. Win or lose, he’ll put in a great effort.

Sierra Leone seems like an obvious choice given his hard-luck loss in the Kentucky Derby, but he defeated himself in that race by lugging in instead of continuing a straightforward path in the home stretch. His jockey in that race, Tyler Gaffalione, wound up hitting the rider of third-place finisher Forever Young, and somehow Sierra Leone escaped disqualification from the stewards.

The change in jockey to Flavien Prat should help Sierra Leone’s chances at getting a better, more disciplined trip. But don’t discount the other big closer in the race, Honor Marie.

Watching the Kentucky Derby replay, Honor Marie got pinched back at the start and shuffled to the rear of the field. He made a big move on the turn to close into the upper half of the field but wound up being blocked by other horses in the stretch. With far less horses to contend with here, chances are good that Honor Marie will bounce back in a big way.

Of the four front-runners, if any of them have a chance to wire the Belmont field, it’s hard not to like Mindframe. Though this will be his first stakes race, his two previous races were dominant efforts, the most recent of which was a huge win in a Churchill Downs allowance on the Kentucky Derby undercard. If a spot in the Belmont weren’t enough of an endorsement from his connections, Mindframe will also have one of the country’s best jockeys, Irad Ortiz Jr., in the saddle. 

My picks: Sierra Leone, Honor Marie, Mystik Dan, Mindframe