Irad Ortiz Jr warmed up for his trip to Royal Ascot in spectacular fashion as he guided Mo Donegal to victory in the Belmont Stakes.
Much of the pre-race attention surrounded Rich Strike, the 80-1 winner of the Kentucky Derby.
But the Eric Reed-trained colt was at the back of the pack from the beginning and despite a brief move that looked momentarily promising, he was ultimately never able to land a serious blow, eventually finishing sixth.
Up front We The People made the running, with Mo Donegal not far behind his Todd Pletcher-trained stablemate Nest as the Mike Repole-owned pair stalked the pace.
Fifth in the Derby, Mo Donegal responded immediately when Ortiz Jr asked him to go and while the filly Nest gave chase, she was never going to get there.
It was ideal preparation for Ortiz Jr, who will ride all of Wesley Ward’s horses at the Royal meeting, including Golden Pal in the King’s Stand Stakes on Tuesday.