Eleven years ago, Robert LaPenta found himself hoisting, somewhat improbably, the Belmont Stakes (G1) trophy, after his Da’ Tara, at odds of 38.5-1, the longest shot in the field, romped home by 5 1/4 lengths. Big Brown , winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and Preakness Stakes (both G1), was distanced, finishing last.
A graduate of Iona College, the Catholic institution 20 miles north of Belmont Park in New Rochelle, NY, LaPenta recently recounted one of his favorite stories from that day.
“The nuns were on a retreat that weekend, and after the race was over, I got a bunch of texts from them,” he said, laughing at the memory. “There were 300 nuns rooting for Da’ Tara on a big screen at the retreat. I said it was a miracle what he did that day.”
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