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Dan Fitch

The Belmont Stakes is far from the only three-year-olds only race at the meet as there’s the Woody Stephens Stakes too. Get all the essential information on this Grade I contest on the dirt held during the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.

What is the Woody Stephens Stakes?

The Woody Stephens is a Grade I thoroughbred stakes race for horses aged three only. Over a distance of seven furlongs, it’s an event for horses that lacked the stamina on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and other legs of the Triple Crown.

Just like the rest of the Belmont Stales Racing Festival, this race normally takes place at Belmont Park. In 2024 and 2025, however, the entire meet moves upstate and out of New York City to Saratoga Race Course.

This is because Belmont Park is currently undergoing extensive redevelopment work and won’t reopen until 2026. The Woody Stephens is one of the supporting races on Belmont Stakes day itself. That is Saturday, June 8 this year.

Woody Stephens Stakes History

Inaugurated in 1985, this race was originally called the Riva Ridge Stakes. It honored a Hall of Fame racehorse and former Kentucky Derby winner of the same name.

In 2006, however, it was renamed in honour of the Hall of Fame trainer Woody Stephens. His horses landed eight Triple Crown races in total. These included five consecutive winners of the Belmont Stakes between 1982 and 1986.

The race was given Grade III status in 1988, then upgraded to a Grade II event a decade later. It finally became a Grade I contest in 2019, as race organizers the NYRA wanted greater depth to their Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.

Hall of Fame Trainers Most Successful in Race

D. Wayne Lukas is the trainer who has had the most success at the Woody Stephens with four victories. His horses won in 1987, 1989, 1995 and 1999. The Bob Baffert barn has enjoyed the most recent success with three victories since 2014.

Four jockeys jointly hold the record for the most wins in the Woody Stephens Stakes, with three victories apiece. They are Jerry Bailey (1991, 1999, 2000), Mike E. Smith (1996, 1998, 2017), Edgar Prado (2005, 2006, 2010), and Joel Rosario (2013, 2016, 2018).

The speed record for this seven furlong race is 1:20:33, set by You And I in 1994. Jack Christopher set the record for the biggest margin of victory with Jose Ortiz on board. The Chad C. Brown-trained horse won by ten lengths in 2022.

Woody Stephens Past Performances & Winners

Bayern is one of the Woody Stephens Stakes winners

We’re now going to give you the key details of past winners of the Woody Stephens Stakes since 2014:

Year Horse Jockey Trainer
2023 Book’em Danno Irad Ortiz Jr Derek S. Ryan
2023 Arabian Lion John R. Velazquez Bob Baffert
2022 Jack Christopher Jose Ortiz Chad C. Brown
2021 Drain the Clock Jose Ortiz Saffie Joseph Jr
2020 No Parole Luis Saez Thomas Amoss
2019 Hog Creek Hustle Corey J. Lanerie Vickie L. Foley
2018 Still Having Fun Joel Rosario Timothy L. Keefe
2017 American Anthem Mike E. Smith Bob Baffert
2016 Tom’s Ready Joel Rosario Dallas Stewart
2015 March Irad Ortiz Jr Chad C. Brown
2014 Bayern Gary L. Stevens Bob Baffert

Woody Stephens Stakes 2024 Picks

With all the details about this year’s runners in, our experts have their picks for the Woody Stephens. They picked the winner with main bet Book’em Danno doing the business. On top of that, another top 3 finish bet, Prince Of Monaco also made the show in second spot.

Woody Stephens Post Position Draw

Before the draw for post positions, everyone needs to know the final field. There are 11 three-year-olds set to race with one of the final entries scratched after declarations.

With the Woody Stephens Stakes post position draw made on Monday, June 3 this year, here are all the details with Morning Line odds:

  1. Book’em Danno (122lbs) – 9-2
  2. Barksdale (118lbs) – 20-1
  3. Imagination (124lbs) – 10-1
  4. Valentine Candy (122lbs) – 6-1
  5. Frost Free (124lbs) – 15-1
  6. Reasoned Analysis (122lbs) – 15-1
  7. Prince Of Monaco (124lbs) – 7-2
  8. Vlahos (118lbs) – 6-1 SCRATCHED
  9. Nash (122lbs) – 6-1
  10. Nutella Fella (124lbs) – 15-1
  11. Maximus Meridius (118lbs) – 15-1
  12. Be You (118lbs) – 15-1

Key Woody Stephens Stats & Trends

Let’s take a look at some of the recent stats and trends for this race, which can help to inform your wagers on the best Belmont Stakes racebooks for the Woody Stephens Stakes 2024.

The 2023 Woody Stephens was won by Arabian Lion. Ridden by John R. Velazquez, the horse was trained by Bob Baffert. That is the latest of three victories for the barn from just five runners in the last decade.

Chad C. Brown is the only other trainer to have enjoyed more than one win in this race over the last ten years. He won with March in 2015 and Jack Christopher in 2022, while he has also had another horse placed, from a total of seven starts.

Ortiz & Rosario the Riders to Follow

Over the last decade, Jose Ortiz has been the most successful jockey, with two wins, a place and show from nine rides. His victories have come in recent years, winning on Jack Christopher in 2022 and Drain the Clock in 2021.

Joel Rosario has three wins in total (2013, 2016, 2018), of which two have come in the last ten years. In that period he has also had a second placed finish, from seven starts.

The favorite has won in each of the last two years, but only has three victories over the last decade. In five of the past ten years, the favorite hasn’t managed to even make the show.

With favorites not performing as well as might be expected in this race, that created opportunities for longshots. Hog Creek Hustle was the biggest priced winner of the Woody Stephens over the last ten years, at odds of 20-1 in 2019.

Post position can play a part. The 2023 winner came out of gate 3, with that position also finish second in 2021 and third in 2019. It seems as if inside draws have something of an advantage.

Gate 1 has been the winner in 2022 and 2020, while it also produced a third in 2021. Meanwhile, gate 2 won in 2021 and had second in 2022.


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Dan Fitch
Dan Fitch

Nobody is more clued up on past payouts, results and winners of the Belmont Stakes than stats man Dan. He has the history of this great race nailed down.