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2012 Belmont Stakes Preview

Posted by: Princeton Group | Posted on: June 8th, 2012 | 0 Comments

Contrary to popular belief, the Belmont Stakes will still be run Saturday—even though Triple Crown hopeful I’ll Have Another has been scratched from the race due to injury.

Mainly, this just harms those who planned to bet against I’ll Have Another; without him in the race as the heavy favorite, odds on all the other logical contenders will plummet, sapping the value from the race. I’ll Have Another’s defection won’t, however, have a sizeable impact on how the race will be run.

Union Rages still looms dangerous after skipping the Preakness to rest up for this race. Almost from the moment he stepped onto the track in 2011, Union Rags was earmarked as the next superstar. Unfortunately, he’s never lived up to the hype; he’s managed to find traffic trouble in nearly every important race, and, at this point, he’s burned through more people’s money than a bankrupt Hollywood starlet. Alas, Union Rags has one last chance to redeem himself. He gets a jockey switch from Julian Leparoux to adroit rider John Velasquez, and the anachronistically long Belmont distance should prove felicitous for a horse like Union Rags, who possesses a consistently high cruising speed.

Dullahan also skipped the Preakness–after closing for third place in the KY Derby–to rest up for the Belmont.  Many assume that the extraordinarily long distance of the Belmont favors deep closers like Dullahan, but that simply hasn’t been the case historically. In truth, the field tends to run slower because of the long distance, eliminating any type of hot pace that closers could rally into. Dullahan also has never won on dirt, but he is trained by Dale Romans, who has been hitting the board regularly in recent years in Triple Crown races.

Though Bodemeister–who ran second in both the Derby and Preakness–won’t be in the Belmont, Bob Baffert’s other horse, Paynter, will run. At first glance, it appears the callow Paynter may be loose on the lead, making him an appealing proposition. However, trainer Ken McPeek indicated his horse, 30-1 outsider Unstoppable U, will go for the lead, which may toughen Paynter’s task.

Outside of those top three, it takes incredible imagination to make a case for any of the other eight horses, who seem utterly hopeless.

What makes the Belmont so arduous to win is the distance. None of these horses has ever run 1.5 miles on dirt before, and they’ll likely never do so again. Making the task more difficult is the fact that most of these horses are coming off competing in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, or both; therefore, they come into the Belmont already fatigued.

Even without the Triple Crown on the line, Saturday’s Belmont Stakes remains one of the most important races on the thoroughbred calendar—don’t miss it!