There are 11 horses competing in this year’s version of the Belmont Stakes. But in the eyes of most people though, there is only one.
Of course, that horse is I’ll Have Another. Many think this truly will be his race to lose with nemesis Bodemiester not partaking in the festivities. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean this will be a one-horse race.
There are a couple of other contenders that are worth taking a look at, both of which were also pretty well-favored in the first leg of this run at Churchill Downs. One fared well, and the other did not.
So who will stand in the way of I’ll Have Another’s quest to become the 12th horse at Belmont Park on June 9 to win the elusive Triple Crown ?
Going in reverse order as the odds stand today, here they are.
Union Rags 4/1 — This horse is the son of Dixie Union and Tempo. While he has run three races in this calendar year, he has gotten worse each stop along the way. He started the year off with a first and third place finish at the Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby respectively. So you can imagine why his odds were so short when it came time for him to run the Derby. The Michael Matz trainee was actually one of the top favorites in that prestigious event at 5/1. In fact only one other horse had shorter odds, and that was eventual second place finisher Bodemiester. Well, Union Rags went on to finish seventh in Kentucky. A disappointing run for all involved really. So disappointing in fact that they opted to not even participate in the Preakness. It is not all that unusual for a non-Derby winner to skip the event, but that was not the only sign of disappointment. Julian Leparoux has also been relieved of his duties as the horse’s jockey. He rode Union Rags in all three races in 2012. John Velazquez is the man who will replace him in the irons, and in case you are wondering, he has not had the best runs in the Triple Crown legs this season. He finished 10th at the Preakness on Went the Day Well, and rode the same horse to a fourth place finish at Churchill Downs.
Dullahan 7/2 — The pride of Even the Score and Mining My Own has had a fairly good showing in the year 2012. He has run just three times, but he managed a show in all three. In Palm Beach he managed to place second. The Donegal products then went onto take the Blue Grass title the next month. Dullahan was also a pretty big favorite at Churchill, but an impressive third a length-and-a-half back of I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister. Like Union Rags, Dullahan will also be getting a new jockey for the Belmont. Javier Castellano will be the man in charge of Dullahan’s destiny on Sunday. But unlike Union Rags’ new jockey, Castellano did not ride in both prior Triple Crown events, appearing in only the Derby on Gemologist, whicg he guided to a not so exciting 16th place finish. That horse was one of the three favorites going in, so it’s really not a wonder as to why he did not find a mount for the Preakness.
I’ll Have Another 3/2 — Finally, we all know about this horse by now. The horse that has a chance to be the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years. A horse that had so many similarities to the last Triple Crown winner in Affirmed in his first two races. The likeness will cease to exist this Sunday though as Another’s rival has chosen not to run the Belmont. The horse that was a 15-1 in the Kentucky Derby is now just one win away from history. The overwhelming majority thinks that he can pull it off, and so do I.
My Pick: -It’s a tossup. While I like Union Rags’ steady diet of wins and consistent finishes, it’s the partnership of I’ll Have Another and jockey Mario Gutierrez that impresses me the most. I mean how can you bet against a horse and jockey that came from virtual anonymity and then were plunged into the midst of making horse racing history?
Which by the way will happen on Saturday.