Friday, June 8, 2012

Belmont Stakes 2012

Belmont Stakes
Saturday June 9th @ 6:30 pm EST

Since 2002 there have been four horses:

War Emblem (2002), Funny Cide (2003), Smarty Jones (2004) and Big Brown (2009) who successfully accomplished winning the first two gems of the American Triple Crown (The Kentucky Derby and Preakness), but for various reasons failed to win the Belmont Stakes.

Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
does not like waking up to
bad news!

This morning (Friday) when I woke up I discovered that I’ll Have Another will join this pack of “close but no Secretariat” group of horses, due to a swollen tendon…..perhaps even more disappointing is that management not only announced he was scratched from the Belmont Stakes, but that he’s also retiring.

Despite not running for the Triple Crown, I would have loved seeing this horse in the Breeder’s Cup Classic....but such is the economic and injury realities of horse racing.

History Challenged?? Horse of Legend??
I might be watching too much Spartacus.
Whatever word means less than devastated, but more than “just” disappointed – is how I and many racing enthusiasts feel right now.

For the past few weeks we had been gearing up to see history challenged and perhaps a horse of destiny become one of legend… what we have left is a very old, rich in tradition and purse, New York stakes race--- we call the Belmont Stakes.

Despite having a few very good horses in this race (which isn’t always the case for the Belmont Stakes), this race will serve as very little consolation for what many of us had hoped to see.

Even if I’ll Have Another was beaten on the track… still would have been "in the arena"  “on the track”.

But enough whining let’s take a look at the horses that will run this Saturday.

In my opinion the only way that these long shots could win is if the favored horses push themselves too hard coming out of the final turn and are absolutely fatigued with a 100 or 200 yards still to go. It’s possible but I don’t see a long shot worth the money in this group:

#2  - Unstoppable U (20-1) – recently won an allowance race in Belmont.
#4 – Atigun (15-1),
#6 - Ravelo’s Boy (30-1),
#7 - Five Sixteen (30-1),
#8 - Guyana Star Dweej (30-1), --- Jockey Kent Desormeaux won the Belmont in 2009.
#10 - Optimizer (15-1), --- hasn't won a race since August 2011
#12 - My Adonis (15-1)

#1 Street Life (8-1) is an interesting prospect because he appears to like longer races, and I could see him being very dangerous if the more favored horses wear each other down too early. I think he’s got a lot of potential, and although he’ll need luck in the Belmont….I think he could certainly pull off an upset.

#3 Union Rags (3-1) The Breeder’s Cup Classic, the Florida Derby, the Kentucky Derby were all races this horse should have won….or at least one or two of these races, instead he’s progressively finished worse in each one. I can’t tell if Union Rags has just had some bad luck or if he simply isn’t as good a horse as many thought? He could be the most talented horse in the field who just needs a clear run to win his first major race (or at least his first major in awhile). Union Rags will be ridden by J. Velazquez  who won the Belmont in 2007 on the highly underrated Filly Rags to Riches.

#5 Dullahan (9-5) He was narrowly beaten in the Kentucky Derby --- and it appears that more distance will help him, which are all the right reasons for him being the favorite. My fear is that either he, Union Rags, or Paynter will hit the panic button too early in the Belmont and it will send any of them into a ferocious fight for a few hundred yards….however it will be too soon and they’ll fade as either a long shot or Street Life sail by them.

#9 Paynter (7-2) – Paynter may attempt to set the pace in the Belmont Stakes, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him lead the field coming out of the final turn. That aside I think there are more talented horses in this field and I think his best finish would be possibly 2nd place….but more like 3rd or 4th. Mike Smith will be aboard and he won the Belmont in 2010 on Drosselmeyer.

Personally I’m rooting for Union Rags and Street Life.

With Union Rags – I just think he’s a much better horse than his record indicates, and that he's just had a string of bad luck. I’d enjoy watching him take home a major stakes race…..and after some rest he could return to some late summer racing and maybe make a go at the Breeder’s Cup Classic.

Despite Street Life’s championship breeding he’s a bit of an underdog – and I think he could develop down the road into a very capable horse. He’ll be competing in the race his sire Street Sense decided to skip.

Closing Speed likes: Union Rags / Dullahan / Street Life

If I were going to bet $22 this is how I’d do it.

$10 – Street Life to win (as long as his odds don’t dip below 5-1). I might switch that bet to Union Rags or Paynter if the odds on either of those horses rises above 5-1.

$12 Trifecta – 3,5 with 1,3,5,9, with 1,3,5,9

I’m not crazy about the potential payout with the Trifecta --- and My Adonis could certainly sneak into the top three….but I’m kind of too depressed about the Triple Crown to think about betting.

In closing here's to I'll Have Another --- a Champion of a horse, who gave fans a lot to cheer for! Here's hoping for a speedy recovery and success in providing us with more champions in the future!