2012 Belmont Stakes Pick & Preview – Will There Be Another Triple Crown Winner?

Ill Have AnotherThis Saturday, June 9, 2012 horse racing and sports fans are going to get the answer that they have been waiting since the Preakness Stakes. Will I’ll Have Another FINALLY break the 34 year drought, and win not only the Belmont Stakes, but become the twelfth horse to win the Triple Crown? Will he be the first since Affirmed in 1978?

Will he join not only Affirmed but also join the ten others such as Sir Barton, Whirlaway, and Secretariat, OR will there be a horse in the field that upsets the Triple Crown attempt such as Empire Maker who upset Funny Cide’s bid in 2003, or Birdstone upsetting Smarty Jones’ attempt in 2004, and I’ll Have Another will join that group of horses who won the first two legs of the Crown (Kentucky Derby and Preakness) but lost the bid in the Belmont. Aside from Funny Cide and Smarty Jones, the great Alysheba, and Sunday Silence also lost their bids in the Belmont.

The story of I’ll Have Another has been an amazing ride for this wonderful son of Flower Alley. I love how his jockey, Mario Gutierrez, a 25 year old fairly unknown jockey got discovered by the horse’s owner, J. Paul Reddam. Now, Gutierrez is an instant celebrity. I hope this young man goes far. He seems like a nice, humble young man. The horse himself, is a smallish horse, but a very handsome individual. He even has a twitter page, as does his famous lead pony, Lava Man, who won plenty of stakes races. Lots of dark clouds surround the horse’s trainer, Doug O’Neill (who claimed Lava Man for 50, 000 dollars, and then retired him) concerning drug violations. In fact, on July 1, he is to serve a 45 day suspension for one of his horses having an elevated level of carbon dioxide.

However, I am keeping this blog positive, as there are plenty of bloggers and writers talking about this issue, but I did want to address it because it is a very important issue, and horse racing needs to address its drug problems, and other issues. It would be irresponsible of me to totally ignore the issue.

Moving on…..

The Belmont Stakes post position draw took place on Wednesday, June 6th, and here is your field for the Belmont Stakes. Next to each horses name in parentheses, I will have the name of the owner listed, name of trainer, name of jockey in that order. Outside of the parentheses, I will put down the morning line odds that were announced. I then will write a brief analysis of each horse, and make my picks.

You all know the drill, so here we go.

The Field for the 144th Running of the Belmont Stakes

1. Street Life (Magnolia Racing Stable; Chad Brown; Jose Lezcano) 12 He is a closer. Was a good closing third in Peter Pan. If pace is fast enough, he may hit the board. Use in lower part of exotics

2. Unstoppable U (Magdalena Racing; Ken McPeek; Junior Alvarado) 30-1 Only ran two races. Unless you like long shots, throw out. I love the breeding, but I’ll pass.

3. Union Rags (Chadds Ford Stable; Michael Matz; John Velazquez) 6-1 Excellent horse. Won the Champagne at Belmont Park as a 2 year old. Had a bad race in the Kentucky Derby. Had an uneven 3 year old year so far. Has a lot of speed. How far he can carry it is the question. John Velazquez is the new jockey, and he said the horse is training well.

4. Atigun (Shortleaf Stable; Ken McPeek; Julien Leparoux) 30-1 He is in over his head. Throw out.

5. Dullahan (Donegal Racing; Dale Romans; Javier Castellano) 5-1 Trainer Dale Romans says horse is training well. Romans said he “wants to upset the Crown.” Well, if the pace is a white hot pace, Dullahan may have a shot. It is very tough for a one move horse like Dullahan to win the Belmont Stakes. The race being a mile and a half is very deceiving. However, don’t count this horse out.

6. Rovello’s Boy (Korina Stable; Manuel Azpurua; Alex Solis) 50-1 Got two words for you: Toss him.

7. Five Sixteen (MeB Racing Stables; Dominick Schettino; Rosie Napravnik) 50-1 What is this horse doing in this race? Another toss. Doesn’t belong. If he wins or hits the board, I will eat my hat.

8. Guyan Star Dweej (Shivmangal Racing; Doodnauth Shivmangal; Kent Desormeaux) 50-1 Toss out. No Chance.

9. Paynter (Zayat Stables; Bob Baffert; Mike Smith) 8-1 Now this horse is interesting. Baffert thinks this horse has more talent than Bodemeister who finished second in both the Derby and the Preakness (My comment: If Bodemeister had only had a little more seasoning, and had a couple of races as a two year old, I truly believe we would be talking about Bodemeister going for racing’s immortality.) Paynter finished second in the Derby Trial, and won a 1 1/16th mile at Pimlico. He looks to have good speed, and good tactical speed. I would use him in my exotics if I were a betting person.

10 Optimizer (Bluegrass Hall; D. Wayne Lukas; Corey Nakatani), 20-1 This horse was 6th in the Preakness, and 11th in the Derby. He is bred (sired by English Channel, an awesome GRASS horse) for the turf, not the dirt. However, his connections STILL don’t get the message. Oh boy. Toss.

11 I’ll Have Another (J. Paul Reddam; Doug O’Neill; Mario Gutierrez), 4-5 Well, I don’t think the post position is going to be much of a factor. Gutierrez has to be careful of a couple of things: He has to get I’ll Have Another in a position where he not in traffic, and stays out of trouble. The other main thing is that he does NOT go too early. This is another quirk of Belmont Park. Jockeys forget there is that extra 3/16th, and go too early. In my opinion, and I was at this particular Belmont, that is what cost Real Quiet the Crown. His jockey, Kent Desormeaux, went too early, He also put Real Quiet on the rail also. Anyway, I definitely think “Another” has a huge shot to win. He has looked great in his gallops, and has kept his energy up.

12 My Adonis (George and Lori Hall; Kelly Breen; Ramon Dominguez) 20-1 He placed in a few stake races. He might hit the board, but I don’t think he is a huge threat.

My Belmont Stakes Picks:

I’ll Have Another, Paynter, Union Rags Those are the three I can see winning, however, I think the ultimate winner and NEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWW Triple Crown Winner will be:

I’ll Have Another.

Horses for the upset: Paynter, Union Rags, and (if the pace is fast enough) Dullahan

Well, that is my prediction blog for the Belmont Stakes.

As a bonus feature, here is the 1978 Belmont Stakes where Affirmed was crowned the 11th and (as of now) last Triple Crown winner. He was in a hot deul with Alydar in both their 2 and 3 year old years over 10 races. Affirmed won 7 races, including the Triple Crown, and Alydar won 3. It was, and in my mind, still is, one of the best sports rivalries ala Yankees/Red Sox, Steelers/Browns, Brian Boitano/Brian Orser (men’s figure skating), etc. People had their favorites. There were Affirmed fans. There were Alydar fans (hand raised high). I really loved how Alydar kept coming back. No matter how many times Affirmed beat him, Alydar would keep trying. Alydar was no slouch either. He would have won a Triple Crown himself if Affirmed had not been born in the same year. It’s OK. Alydar turned out to be a much better sire anyway.

Well, here is the bonus video. Enjoy.

Terri Bey currently blogs for about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for Terri can be found here at Facebook- and at Twitter-

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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