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.
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.
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.
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