Sunday, June 10, 2012

Post Triple Crown Races

                                          Union Rags runs down Paynter in Belmont

We will never know what would have happened if I'll Have Another was able to load the gate yesterday in the Belmont Stakes. What we did witness was that Union Rags was finally able to run and boy did he ever. Stalking the pace setter, Paynter the entire race, he was able to get by on the inside and run him down by a neck at the finish line to show why he was widely considered the top three-year-old at the beginning of the year. With the Triple Crown hopeful out of the picture, Union Rags and Paynter did all they could to put on a show for the 85,811 in attendance plus the millions of viewers watching.

Unfortunately, another year has come and gone with no Triple Crown winner. This goes to show you that this feat is one of, if not, the toughest feat in sports to accomplish. The end of the Triple Crown races also mark the conclusion of the the first half of racing for this talented group of three-year-olds. Many of these horses will get a much needed break before the summer stakes races start to heat up. Union Rags has already been pointed toward the Jim Dandy(G2) or the Haskell Stakes(G1) at the end of July. He will look to build off his win at the Belmont and try to vie for three-year-old horse of the year. As of now it is going to take a strong second half performance to overtake I'll Have Another who captured the horse racing world after running down a talented Bodemeister in the first two legs of the Triple Crown.

*Picked Union Rags to take the Belmont as he finally got a good trip and showed everyone the talent he displayed during his two-year-old campaign. Dullahan just didn't have the same kick everyone saw in the Bluegrass and Derby as he was no where to be found at the end. It will be interesting to see if this horse stays on the dirt or goes back to the turf. The newcomer Paynter almost stole the show but had to settle for second. Atigun was third and cost us the trifecta. 

-Check back at the end of July and I will have picks for the summer stakes races. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

144th Belmont Stakes

The last three weeks were filled with hype, anticipation and speculation. In the blink of an eye all that changed the morning before the Belmont Stakes after Doug O'Neil announced that I'll Have Another will be scratched from the race after an apparent tendon issue. The news spread across media outlets all over as the horse racing world sits in shock and disappointment after the breaking news. The drought continues as another year goes by where we will not witness a Triple Crown winner.

As depressing as this news is, that's horse racing for you and there is still a race to be run tomorrow at Belmont. There are some quality horses that will load the gates and it should set up for an interesting race. Union Rags was once considered the top-three-year old, until he had those awful trips in the Florida and Kentucky Derby and looks to redeem himself.  Dullahan, coming off a third place finish in the Derby, looks to continue his consistency as the 1 1/2 mile shouldn't pose a problem for him. There are also newcomers, Street Life and Paynter, who look to crash the party as 4 out of the last 5 Belmont winners were newcomers. Don't cancel your Belmont plans just yet as you are going to witness why they call this race the "Test of Champions" and see just why I'll Have Another may not have been a shoe-in to take the Triple Crown after all.

Belmont Stakes(G1)
6/9 Belmont 6:40 EST

Union Rags 3-1*
We have yet to see what this horse can really do if given the opportunity to run and watch out if he gets a good trip. Was boxed in at the FL Derby and still managed to finish third. Had no shot in the Derby after a slow start and coming from last to finish seventh. Has a win over this track as he won convincingly in the Fountain of Youth(G2) in his three-year-old debut back in February. Only concern is that his pedigree doesn't jump off the page when it comes to this distance. 

Dullahan 9-5*
Coming off a third place finish in the Derby, only 1 3/4 lengths behind winner I'll Have Another and was closing strong. Should be well rested coming off a 5 week layoff after skipping the Preakness. Has hit the board in each of his last seven races and should make it eight after tomorrow. 

Street Life 8-1*
One of the newcomers that has a legitimate shot to pull off the upset. Deep closer who has improved in each of his lifetime starts. Coming off a third place finish in the 1 1/8 mile Peter Pan Stakes over this track. 

Paynter 9-2*
Another Baffert horse with tactical speed. Finished fourth to I'll Have Another in the Santa Anita Derby, only 3 3/4 lengths back. Another newcomer that could steal the show. 

*Odds after I'll Have Another was scratched. 

Ex/Tri Box: 3,5,1,9