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2012 Belmont Stakes: On the Record

One presumes this is his opinion of O'Neill's hipster fedora habit on race days

Will he?

I don’t put much stock in post positions for the Belmont; with so much ground to cover (and with compartively few horses), it’s not usually a major factor. I’ll be at Belmont Park on Saturday to watch the race – as well as the always-exciting undercard, which is frequently my favorite day of racing outside of the Breeders’ Cup – in person. I think I’ll Have Another has an excellent, though certainly not watertight, chance to win. Regular readers may be somewhat surprised to know that I am not set against him winning for oddly-arrived-at moral reasons as I was for Big Brown’s Triple Crown attempt – after all, doesn’t I’ll Have Another have a less-than-noble owner and trainer, just like Big Brown did? It can be difficult to see a bright spot in that organization beyond the loving care and attention the wonderful Lava Man has received; if only all the horses who have come under their shared responsibility had been so fortunate. Of course, without a central set of rules and regulations, much of what happens in racing can be difficult to class as all-good or all-bad, and I’d like to think they’ve learned from past mistakes.

That said, I have a lot of respect for the horse himself, and not just because he’s rewarded me handsomely the last two times I bet him. His breeding strikes me as refreshingly thoughtful – not only was I a fan of his sire, Flower Alley, but I like the stamina influences on his dam’s side as well. He doesn’t seem to suffer from the terrible feet or fragile constitution so many other modern racehorses do, and I would be thrilled to see a ‘non-commercial’ sire (apparently a label slapped on Flower Alley without even seeing his offspring) get one back on big-time breeders in this fashion. And it would be churlish to root against jockey Mario Gutierrez, whose rapid rise over the past few weeks is nothing short of storybook – and hopefully his future career will continue in such a positive direction. In short, I’m not actively picking against I’ll Have Another as I was with Big Brown, but I’m not handing him the victory in advance either. While I believe he has a better shot than many recent Derby-Preakness winners before him, this is no walkover – see you at the track!

PP Horse Trainer Jockey ML Odds
1. Street Life Chad Brown Jose Lezcano 12-1
Has a very attractive pedigree, but a third-place finish in the Peter Pan suggests to me that the distance may yet be beyond him.
2. Unstoppable U Kenny McPeek Junior Alvarado 30-1
Has a win at Belmont and a fine trainer in Kenny McPeek, but it’s a lot to ask at this point in his career.
3. Union Rags Michael Matz John Velazquez 6-1
It’s a question of whether he will have the luck – on paper, this race should be a good fit and traffic trouble should not be an issue, but he seems to have a habit of running into trouble. Will the jockey change help?
4. Atigun Kenny McPeek Julien Leparoux 30-1
Another McPeek trainee has the distance pedigree, but perhaps not the experience.
5. Dullahan Dale Romans Javier Castellano 5-1
He has trained like a pro for the past several weeks and looks amazing; nothing not to like.
6. Ravelo’s Boy Manny Azpurua Alex Solis 50-1
Very much outclassed here.
7. Five Sixteen Dominick Schettino Rosie Napravnik 50-1
The son of Invasor has Rosie Napravnik on board and a maiden win, but it’s a huge step up.
8. Guyana Star Dweej Doodnauth Shivmangal Kent Desormeaux 50-1
I like that he’s by Eddington, but I’m not a huge fan of his jockey or race record thus far.
9. Paynter Bob Baffert Mike Smith 8-1
It’s hard not to imagine that Bob Baffert would like to spoil a Triple Crown, given how close he’s come to winning, and I really like this horse – word on the street is that he’s better than Bodemeister; we should know soon.
10. Optimizer D. Wayne Lukas Corey Nakatani 20-1
The very-experienced Optimizer looks like a distance horse on paper, but he has struggled against top-flight competition. He might prefer turf.
11. I’ll Have Another Doug O’Neill Mario Gutierrez 4-5
He’s undefeated this year, and will finally get to go off as the favorite (in all likelihood); the only knock on the horse himself is that his works this week have not been quite as impressive as those before the Derby and Preakness, but it’s clearly within his grasp.
12. My Adonis Kelly Breen Ramon Dominguez 20-1
Has not won since his 2-year-old year.

Predictions: Dullahan, I’ll Have Another, Paynter, Union Rags
Longshot: Paynter

1 comment to 2012 Belmont Stakes: On the Record

  • First British Columbia’s Hastings Racecourse supplies the rider of the horse the world ought to know as the first Triple Crown winner in decades then the very same province breeds, then forwards, for the first time, a Queen’s Plate winner. Been a rip off your dripping wet cowboy hat and slap it on your thigh in astonishment spring and summer around here.

    Be at Sunflower Downs Friday. See you at the finish line.

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