The mid-runners in this Saturday’s 144th running of the Belmont Stakes will all be long shots with giants like I’ll Have Another and Union Rags leading the pack, but to exclude any pony that has made it to this stage in his career would be a mistake.
**NOTE: I’ll Have Another has been scratched. This article was written prior to him being pulled from the race**
So if you are concerned by the pedigree of performance this season by the two pre-race favorites, then you might look for a mid runner to steal the show.
So here is a list of the best of the rest who aren’t exactly long shots, but are far from favored too.
My Adonis; 20/1 —My Adonis has yet to win a race so far in 2012, but that’s not to say he hasn’t had some good runs though, he just hasn’t crossed the line first. In three of his four appearances this season he has placed on the tote board, with one second place finish at the Gotham-G3, followed by a pair of second place finishes in his first race of the year at the Holy Bull, and in his most recent run at Cananero. Adonis did not run in either of the first two legs of the Triple Crown, so we really have yet to see him against the type of competition he will be faced with this weekend. He will be jockeyed by Ramon Dominguez who did not appear at the Preakness, but did ride Hansen to a 9th place finish at this year’s running of the Kentucky Derby.
Optimizer; 20/1 —This horse has run quite a few times so far in 2012, but he has struggled to get near the front on almost every occasion. In his four non-Triple Crown races, he has finished in the top five just once. He had a pair of ninth place finishes leading up to the Derby, and posted a sixth place finish at the Smarty Jones Stakes. His lone place on the tote board in 2012 came at the Rebel Stakes. The results have not been all that much better during the Triple Crown season either. He was a long shot at Churchill, and finished accordingly coming in at No. 11. His odds were a little better at Pimlico, and he managed a sixth place finish at the Preakness. Now his odds are a little better in the final leg. I would not be at all surprised to see this horse snatch a top three finish. He will have the same jockey that rode him to sixth at the Preakness with Corey Nakatani, who is an aggressive rider who appeared in the Derby on Sabercat finishing 15th.
Street Life; 12/1 —This is one of those outer tier horses that could actually upset the favorites. He has had some good showings thus far in 2012. After his generating wins in his first two races on the season, his former jockey rode him to a sixth place finish, in which he was promptly replaced. New jockey Jose Lezcano stepped in atop the colt, and quickly led Street Life to a third place finish at the Peter Pan GII race. Life did not run in either of the first two legs of the Triple Crown, but that will not stop him from putting on a show at the Belmont.
Paynter; 8/1 —This is one of the more inexperienced horses that will run at the Belmont. You can see by his odds though that he is also going to be one of the fastest in the group. He has run four races this season winning his first and last. Sandwiched in between is a fourth place run, and a runner-up bid at the Derby Trial. He is definitely not out of his element here, and although he did not run in either of the first Triple Crown legs, do not count this horse out. He is darling at 8/1, and while I do not expect him to win, he could very well be in the top three at the wire. Experienced jockey Mike Smith , who has been on Paynter for one race, will be back aboard the colt and that will no doubt sweeten his chances. What is interesting to note is that Paynter’s splits were not all that far off from I’ll Have Another’s. In fact, they were extremely close.
My pick –The favorite out of this group has to be Paynter. But I wouldn’t count out any of these contenders at Belmont as with mid-runners, there’s always room for a shocker.