Mystik Dan: Is The Derby Winner Headed To Saratoga?

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Mystik Dan: Is The Derby Winner Headed To Saratoga?
Andy Linkbuilder

The Triple Crown series in the United States is heading toward its gripping conclusion, with the final leg set for Saratoga in June. The Belmont Stakes won’t be crowning a Triple Crown champion this year, as two different horses have claimed victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. 

But, it remains a hugely lucrative race with a massive purse as well as prestigious rights. Therefore, it will be little surprise to see a strong field go to post at Saratoga for the Belmont Stakes this year. But, could Derby hero Mystik Dan be among the runners that go to post for the final Triple Crown race of 2024?

Mystik Dan Land Memorable Derby Win

Kenneth McPeek has done an excellent job with Mystik Dan throughout the horse’s career to this point, as he looked in perfect condition for a tilt at the Derby in May following his third behind Muth in the G1 Arkansas Derby. 

Despite going off for the Derby at a huge price, there is plenty of form in the book that would have suggested that he would have a strong chance. He was excellent on his second start in 2024 when getting the better of Just Steel to win the G3 Southwest Stakes by over eight lengths. 

However, the Derby presented a different challenge. But, Mystik Dan was able to ride to that challenge under the stewardship of Brian Hernandez in the saddle. It will go down as one of the all-time best rides in the Derby, as Hernandez made the brave move to follow the rail and avoid going the longer trip around the field. 

That would ultimately prove to be the race-winning move by the jockey, as McPeek’s runner was able to hold off the oncoming Sierra Leone and Forever Young to win in a photo. 

Connections Dared To Dream

Owners and trainers have frustrated fans in recent years after making the decision to avoid running in the Preakness after landing Derby glory. However, huge credit must be given to the McPeek team for their decision to chase the Triple Crown dream this year, as Mystik Dan was quickly declared for the race at Pimlico following his victory at Churchill Downs. 


But, the dream wasn’t to live on in Maryland, as the three-year-old could only finish second behind Seize The Grey in the Preakness. It was a huge effort by the Derby winner, but it appeared as though his exploits from the race at Churchill ultimately took their toll, and he didn’t have the pace to close the gap on the eventual winner in the closing stages. 

Will Mystik Dan Line Up At Saratoga?

The attention now switches to the Belmont Stakes at Saratoga in June, but McPeek is yet to fully commit when quizzed whether Mystik Dan will be lining up in the final Triple Crown race. The trainer revealed that the horse was in ‘good order’ after travelling to New York, but time will be taken before a final decision is made regarding his involvement in the final race of the series. 

McPeek revealed that he will discuss possible future plans with connections before a final decision is made, as it has been muted that Mystik Dan could bypass the Belmont Stakes in favour of a run in the G1 Travers over the summer. 

However, fans are hoping that the Derby winner will take his chance in the race, as he could become the first runner to win at least two legs of the Triple Crown since Justify in 2018. Connections could also be tempted to run their star, with a purse of $2 million up for grabs at Saratoga this year. 

Which Horses Are Set For Saratoga?

The field for the Belmont Stakes is already beginning to take shape this year, with leading trainers declaring their interest in running their yard stars. Seize The Grey was the latest runner to be official declared by D. Wayne Lukas, as the Hall of Famer revealed that the Preakness Stakes victor would be taking his chance at Saratoga on social media.

Check out all the contenders here:   


A number of runners that lined up in the Derby before bypassing the Preakness will return to the Triple Crown at Saratoga. Among those include Todd Pletcher’s pre-Derby favorite Fierceness, who could only finish 15th at Churchill Downs. Dornoch and Honor Marie also finished outside of the places in the Derby but will take their chance in the Belmont Stakes.

Sierra Leone was an unfortunate second in the Derby, and will be well-rested before lining up at Saratoga. A number of newcomers to the series will also likely take their chance in the final leg of the Triple Crown. The most eye-catching of those could be Antiquarian for Pletcher, who was an impressive winner of the Peter Pan Stakes on his previous outing.

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