2024 Belmont Stakes Probable Contender: Get To Know Sierra Leone

As the excitement builds for the 2024 Belmont Stakes, horse racing enthusiasts are keenly observing the emerging contenders. Among them, one name is generating considerable buzz: Sierra Leone.

This remarkable thoroughbred has been showcasing an impressive trajectory in the lead-up to one of the most prestigious races in the sport. With a combination of speed, stamina, and an innate racing intelligence, Sierra Leone appears poised to capture the attention of both seasoned bettors and casual fans alike.

Join us as we delve into this promising contender’s background, training regimen, and what makes Sierra Leone a standout in the field of hopefuls for the 2024 Belmont Stakes.

Early Career And Training

The initial stages of a racehorse’s career and training are crucial for its future success and longevity. The groundwork established during these formative years shapes the horse’s athletic abilities and psychological resilience, preparing it for the competitive racing environment. Effective training programs from a young age are vital for building stamina, speed, and overall physical fitness.

Additionally, early exposure to the racetrack helps horses become accustomed to the sights and sounds they experience during races, minimizing anxiety and enhancing performance.

This early groundwork was essential for his achievements in major races, making him a strong contender for events like the 2024 Belmont Stakes. Gamblers aiming to make savvy 2024 Belmont bets should pay attention to horses like Thunderbolt, whose rigorous early training sets them apart.

Sierra Leone debuted on November 4 in a maiden special weight event over a mile at Aqueduct Racetrack. Starting from post 5, he stumbled at the beginning but was urged three wide on the turn and moved five wide into the upper stretch, ultimately winning comfortably under Manuel Franco by one and one-quarter lengths, with a time of 1:36.94.

In his subsequent race on December 2, Sierra Leone competed in the Grade II Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack, a prep event for the Road to the Kentucky Derby over 1 1/8 miles. After dropping back between horses at the start, he made a strong five-wide rally from last place in a field of 10.

As the horses entered the stretch, Sierra Leone briefly took the lead from Dornoch a furlong out, but Dornoch fought back and narrowly won by a nose, finishing the race in 1:50.30 on a muddy, sealed track.

Racing Highlights

Throughout his early career, Sierra Leone accumulated several notable victories. Below, let’s explore the highlights of his racing career.

2024 Risen Star (G2)

With a sluggish start working against him, Sierra Leone staged an impressive late surge to overtake Track Phantom and clinch victory by a head in the 52nd edition of the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

2024 Blue Grass Stakes (G1)

Highly regarded Sierra Leone was reluctant to enter the April 6 Blue Grass Stakes (G1) starting gate at Keeneland, causing a brief delay. However, once the race began, the skilled colt showed no hesitation, charging from ninth place to overtake Just a Touch in the final stretch and secure a 1 1/2-length victory in the $995,782 Blue Grass.

Sierra Leone completed the 1 1/8 mile race in a decent time of 1:50.08. The brisk early fractions of 23.15, 46.48, and 1:10.83, determined by Sierra Leone’s running partner Top Conor and followed closely by Just a Touch, set the stage for his final surge.

Pedigree and Lineage

Sierra Leone’s pedigree speaks volumes about his potential and quality. As a progeny of two highly distinguished thoroughbreds, he carries the legacy of his sire, Gun Runner, and his dam, Heavenly Love.

Gun Runner, renowned for his exceptional racing career, was a powerhouse with multiple Grade 1 wins, including the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Classic. His remarkable speed and endurance have made him a sought-after sire.

On the other hand, Heavenly Love adds a layer of finesse to Sierra Leone’s lineage. Known for her impressive track performances, Heavenly Love blends agility and grace into Sierra Leone’s genetic makeup. Her victories, notably in the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes, underline her competitive spirit and innate talent.

The combination of Gun Runner’s robust legacy and Heavenly Love’s illustrious record positions Sierra Leone as a horse with both the heritage and the aptitude to excel in the racing world. This extraordinary lineage raises expectations and promises an exciting future for Sierra Leone on the racetrack.

Sierra Leone’s Trainer

Chad Brown, a formidable horse training and racing name, has left an indelible mark on Sierra Leone’s equestrian landscape. Known for his unparalleled expertise and commitment to excellence, Brown has trained some of the most successful racehorses in the industry.

His journey, filled with dedication, hard work, and an innate understanding of horses, has propelled him to the pinnacle of his career.

Brown’s strategic approach to training, combining traditional methods with modern techniques, has consistently produced top-tier performances. His ability to understand and communicate with horses more deeply sets him apart from his peers. This unique skill has brought him numerous accolades and cemented his reputation as a leading trainer in Sierra Leone.

In 2001, Chad earned a degree in animal husbandry from Cornell University. He began his career in racing by working for Racing Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey during his college summers and the year after he graduated.


As the 2024 Belmont Stakes draws nearer, excitement continues to mount around Sierra Leone. He is a strong contender for the title with a solid track record, impressive pedigree, and dedicated training. Fans and bettors will watch closely to see if Sierra Leone can live up to the expectations and make a lasting mark in Belmont Stakes history.