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Belmont Stakes Betting News and Notes

Belmont Stakes Betting News and Notes

Belmont Stakes Breakdown
By Anthony Stabile

Bettors and fans alike were hoping to see I’ll Have Another join horse racing immortality on Saturday from Belmont Park and become the 12th horse to win the “Triple Crown.” Unfortunately the horse was scratched on Friday due to developing tendonitis in his left foreleg. With no “Triple Crown” in play and the odds-on favorite out, there is still plenty of value in the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes. Let’s break down the 11 horses running.

1. Street Life 12/1

Notes: We start with one of the more interesting horses in the field. After winning two of his first three starts, Brown thought enough of him to try the Wood Memorial to try and get him to the Derby. He didn't fire at all. Brown added blinkers for the Peter Pan last out and Street life came to life, closing a ton of ground through the stretch to finish third, beaten less than two lengths over a track that favored front runners all day. He needs to get over his Jekyll and Hyde attitude and not throw in clunkers like the Wood. I think the blinkers were what he needed and though I'd be bothered by the rail draw under most circumstances, the fact that he's going to be coming from behind negates the draw. He should get a favorable pace scenario and love the extra distance. I'm using him on all my exotic tickets.

2. Unstoppable U 30/1

Notes: One of two in here for McPeek who orchestrated the biggest upset in Belmont Stakes history when Sarava stopped the Triple Crown bid of War Emblem in 2002, paying a record $142.50. Unlike Sarava, who came from off the pace, this guy figures to be close to the lead, if not on the lead. It's just the third start of his career, however, he's never been around two turns and hasn't beat anything. Also, he really has trained that well in the days leading up to the race. This one's not for me.

3. Union Rags    6/1

Notes: Though his seven race career has been littered with some bad antics and troubled trips, I'm going to try and be as clear and concise as possible about him. Yes, he washes out on occasion and yes, he throws a tantrum now and again and yes, he has a penchant for getting into traffic trouble. But I have no doubts in my mind that HE is the most talented horse in this race and he's going to finally get a chance to prove it. His trainer, who normally doesn't say two words, has been shouting from the mountain tops that he hasn't been given the chance to show how good he is and that we haven't seen the best Union Rags yet. I like when a guy like Matz starts running his mouth. Johnny's going into the Hall of Fame this summer, won the 007 running with the filly Rags to Riches who defeated Curlin and knows Belmont better than anyone on horseback nowadays. He'll put him in the second flight, about five lengths off the lead and likely follow the move of the favorite. All that's left from there is for them to decide who the better horse is. I am confident I know the answer to that. A MUST USE on all of your tickets.

4. Atigun 30/1

Notes: The "other" McPeek colt may actually be the one that can make some noise in here. He's got plenty of foundation, sporting a record of three wins from nine starts and won his last start with a move that's been plenty successful in past runnings of the Belmont. He added Lasix two back when he was beaten less than two lengths for second place in the G1 Arkansas Derby and the difference in his running has been noticeable. He may not be as good as some others in here and would need everything to go perfectly to win it but stranger horses have taken advantage of the last quarter mile, often the great equalizer, and pulled it off. I will be using him underneath in my exotic wagers.

5. Dullahan 5/1

Notes: Boy, he's getting an awful lot of attention for a horse that's run four times on conventional dirt and has only mustered up a couple of third place finishes over the surface. The main reason is that one of those show finishes came in the Derby when he was closing a ton of ground at the end. I didn't say flying because he really wasn't as the final quarter in the Derby was run in a shade under 27 seconds meaning the front runners were pretty much staggering and that someone almost had to close ground late. He gets a rider change to the hottest jockey on the planet in Castellano and blazed a half-mile in :45 4/5 last weekend causing Castellano to remark that if he didn't know who the horse was he'd have assumed he was a front running sprinter. As flashy as that statement is, I'm not thrilled by it. This horse is a deep closer going long. Is he acting and training that much differently as he normally does? And does Castellano now have in his head that this horse has speed? I know deep closers don't usually win the Belmont but I HATE when tactics are changed in a big spot like this. Still, I think he's going to want the added distance more so than most of the others in here and have enough respect for him that I think he can manage to grab a big piece. I'll use him in all my exotics but am not sold he can win this race.

6. Ravelo's Boy 50/1

Notes: He's run thirteen times and has won just twice, in a maiden race at Calder and an optional claimer at Gulfstream. He hasn't run in almost three months, he's trained by a guy winning at just 9% on the year and his rider is known for NOT winning the big ones. The pick… finish last.

7. Five Sixteen 50/1

Notes: When he broke his maiden two starts back he beat a horse that doesn't want to win while going 1 1/8 miles in a snail-like 1:55. Blinkers were added last out in mid-April for an entry level allowance contest and he acted up at the gate then never raised his legs. Would have been my pick to run last had Ravelo's Bot stayed home.

8. Guyana Star Dweej 50/1

Notes: Maybe the Mayans are on to something with their "end of the world prediction" because if Doodnauth Shivmanagal having runners in back to back Belmonts isn't a sign of the apocalypse I don't know what is. You could have claimed him for $25K last December or for $35K in February. It took him eight starts to break his maiden then got dusted by Unstoppable U last out. He picks up Desormeaux, who won the 2009 running aboard Summer Bird but that's the nicest thing you can say about him.

9. Paynter 8/1    

Notes: Though Bodemeister is sitting this one out for some well-deserved before getting ready for a second half campaign, his stablemate is here to carry the colors of owner Ahmed Zayat. Funny thing is rumor has it that Baffert thought this guy was his best chance at winning a classic this year and now he gets the chance to prove his trainer right. Plenty to like as he has tons of tactical speed, obvious talent as evident by his powerful allowance score on the Preakness undercard last out (he ran a faster number on "The Sheets" than I'll Have Another did) and strong connections as Baffert won the 2001 Belmont with Point Given while Smith piloted Drosselmeyer to a 13-1 upset of the race in 2010. As for the negatives, like Bodemeister, he's been playing catch-up this spring as this will be his fourth race in just 64 days and just his third around two turns. He'll be on or close to the lead which means he's going to have to run hard the entire way to pull this horse. Seems like an awful lot to ask of a horse in just his fifth start, despite his abundant talent. A very, very reluctant pass for me.

10. Optimizer 20/1    

Notes: Thought there was a chance he wouldn't enter after Lukas got kicked in the head earlier in the week. I figured it might have knocked some sense into him. I guess I was wrong. He's a turf horse, plain and simple, and last I checked the Belmont is not run on the turf. The shame is people will get sucked in because it's Lukas and the horses' pedigree leads you to think he should like the distance but I'm staying far, far away.
11. I'll Have Another SCRATCHED    

12. My Adonis 20/1    

Notes: This horses' name wasn't even mentioned until Tuesday, a big no-no in the Big A's book. I liked him earlier in the year but he never took the step forward I thought he would. He'll definitely take some money as his trainer and owner won this last year with Ruler On Ice and the presence of Dominguez always makes the odds on a horse drop, especially in the Big Apple. I think he's got to show speed from post 12 which hurts his chances even more. Not for me.

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Re: Belmont Stakes Betting News and Notes

Belmont Stakes betting: Horse-by-Horse Preview and Picks

The drought continues.

Friday’s shocking news that I’ll Have Another has been scratched due to tendinitis surely confirms how difficult it is to win the Triple Crown.

It’s been 34 years and counting since Affirmed won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.

Belmont officials expected over 100,000 fans for Saturday’s spectacle, which has suddenly become a little more interesting than an allowance race. Still, 11 horses will go to the post in the grueling Test of Champions.

Here is a look at the Belmont Stakes entries and the wild swing in odds:

1. Street Life (+800); Jockey: Jose Lezcano

This one is the flavor of the day and deservedly so. Street Life rallied for a third in his last outing, the Peter Pan Stakes, on this race course. He seems to like the distance and is quietly a contender at least to hit the board.

2. Unstoppable U (+2000); Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Has won his only two races but they’re against much weaker fields. Unstoppable U appears to be the cheap speed horse in the field and, even if he jumps out to big lead, probably won’t pose much of a threat.

3. Union Rags (+250); Jockey: John Velazquez

Rags has more excuses than a teenager after curfew. He was bumped at the start of the Kentucky Derby and fell too far behind. Some people still believe that Union Rags is one of the best three-year-olds in training and he’s got an impressive win over this surface. Trainer Michael Matz blamed his poor Derby journey on jockey Julien Leparoux, so he’s going with Velazquez here. He surely moves up with I’ll Have Another to contend with.

4. Atigun (+2000); Jockey: Julien Leparoux

Has had no success against graded competition but if you’re looking for a long-shot consider that trainer Ken McPeek saddled Sarava, who won the Belmont in 2002 and paid $142.00 to win. Atigun won’t pay that much but it would still be a nice score.

5. Dullahan (+200); Jockey: Javier Castellano

If any horse was clearly poised to play the role of spoiler it was Dullahan. Trainer Dale Romans has been red hot and he skipped the Preakness with this spot in mind. Over the past decade, very few horses have run in the Preakness and still been sharp in the Belmont. Romans is banking that Dullahan, who has great late speed, will be fresh enough. Without I’ll Have Another he is the deserving favorite.

6. Ravelo’s Boy (+4000); Jockey: Alex Solis

Has not run in nearly three months and has had no success against the likes of these hard hitters. Ravelo’s Boy, however, was injured in his last start and, despite tearing off part of his front heel, he still mounted a gritty rally to finish fifth. He’s got the guts to close out the trifecta here.

7. Five Sixteen (+6600); Jockey: Rosie Napravnick

The hottest thing about this entry is the jockey. Napravnick is trying to become the first female to win the Belmont Stakes since Julie Krone won aboard Colonial Affair in 1993. If you like a chick that uses the whip then Napravnick is your girl. But Five Sixteen has just a maiden win in six starts on his resume. Pass.

8. Guyana Star Dweej (+6600); Jockey: Kent Desormeaux

Desormeaux had to pass another drug test to get this mount and it will take a good dose of meds to get this horse in the winner’s circle. Another decided long shot, Guyana is making his stakes debut in the Belmont and could have been purchased for $5,500 at the yearling sales. Dave Hester pays more for storage lockers nowadays.

9. Paynter (+450); Jockey: Mike Smith

Bodemeister is skipping this race (look for him to shine in the Haskell), so trainer Bob Baffert is sending his stablemate Paynter to the post in his place. Baffert is hoping that a fresh horse with some talent will be enough to steal this race, but I think he’ll come up a bit short.

10. Optimizer (+1600); Jockey: Corey Nakatani

Six weeks ago, trainer D. Wayne Lukas felt that Optimizer was best suited for the Belmont Stakes but he still entered him in both the Kentucky Derby (11th) and Preakness (sixth). Lukas was kicked in the head by a horse earlier in the week requiring hospitalization. He’ll saddle Optimizer Saturday but this horse certainly won’t be fresh. Maybe Lukas should have his head examined.

12. My Adonis (+1800); Jockey: Ramon Dominguez

Owner George Hall entered My Adonis Wednesday hoping to relive the magic he had last year when his horse, Ruler On Ice, won the Belmont at 24-1. The last owner to win back-to-back Belmont Stakes owned Riva Ridge and Secretariat. This one clearly isn’t in that class.

Picks: 1. Dullahan, 2. Paynter 3. Ravelo’s Boy

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