ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: Union Rags ridden by John Velazquez (R) outruns Paynter ridden by Mike Smith (L) to win the 144th Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 9, 2012 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Belmont Stakes 2012: Union Rags Bests Paynter In Photo Finish

Union Rags won an exciting Belmont Stakes, edging Paynter in photo finish

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2012 Belmont Stakes News And Notes: The Day After

Here are some notes from Saturday's 144th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. Without Triple Crown hopeful I'll Have Another, retired due to injury, Union Rags was victorious, ediging Paynter with a tremendous stretch run.

Shadow of I'll Have Another hangs over Belmont Stakes | Detroit Free Press | freep.com
I'll Have Another was in his stall at his barn when 11 horses were led into the starting gate under darkening skies. The finish was déjà vu all over again for Paynter's trainer, Bob Baffert.

Before I'll Have Another's retirement ceremony, fans cheered as he walked laps around the paddock. Some waved "I'll Have Another" signs. The background music: Don't Stop Believin' by Journey.

He was taken to the winner's circle. Jockey Mario Gutierrez, wearing not his silks but a white shirt and tie, mounted I'll Have Another. Gutierrez stroked the back of the horse's neck. After Gutierrez dismounted the horse, trainer Doug O'Neill removed the saddle. He patted the horse three times on the backside.

"He's had an incredible run. In any sport you have to stay injury free. Unfortunately he came up with a slight injury. Could we have run him? Yes. But would that have been the right move? No," said O'Neill.

"I was proud of the whole team. It was unanimous in not running him. It's been such an unbelievable run. He's a once in a lifetime horse. We're just focused on all the great part of this journey he took us through."

Mac's Layup Drill: A fine Belmont, but the thrill was gone | SILive.com
Call it the Belmont Stakes that wasn’t.

Officially, the record books will show that Union Rags and courageous jockey Johnny Velazquez rode the stretch-run rail yesterday, slipping past a game Paynter late.

And the race was honest, and exciting, and solid from start to finish.

Claire Novak - What could have been - ESPN
The Belmont Stakes was a thriller, all right -- just not as thrilling as it could have been.

But this wasn’t anything like what New York racing fans had hoped for.
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2012 Belmont Stakes Reaction: Union Rags Team Wonders What Might Have Been

After Union Rags earned the victory Saturday in the 2012 Belmont Stakes, the final leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, his handlers are left to wonder what might have been.

Union Rags was ridden by Julien Leparoux in the Kentucky Derby, finishing a disappointing seventh. In the Belmont, John Velazquez — the rider trainer Michael Matz seemed to want all along — was aboard.

“He rode a brilliant race today,” said Matz. “He’s a strong rider. He knows Belmont and that was some of the things that figured into picking John.”

Matz admitted to initially wanting Velazquez aboard Union Rags in the Kentucky Derby. Velazquez, however, was committed to riding Animal Kingdom in a race in Dubai and could not commit to all three Triple Crown races.

“I guess I’m the lucky one. I guess that’s the only way to describe it. I guess what is meant to be for you is meant to be for you,” said Velazquez. “We’ve been being looking for a long time if the opportunity would come up for me to ride the horse, I guess it worked out good for me today.”

Matz was, of course, asked about the absence of injured Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner I’ll Have Another from the race.

“We always thought this horse had Triple Crown potential when we trained him,” Matz said. “I do really think that this horse, when he has a clean trip and can show himself, he is one of the best three-year-olds of this crop. And whether he could have done something against I’ll Have Another, I don’t know, but it sure would have been fun to see.”

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Belmont Stakes 2012 Results: Union Rags Wins, Followed By Paynter And Atigun

Union Rags overtook Paynter in the streatch to win the 2012 Belmont Stakes in a photo finish Saturday at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. Despite the late scratch of Triple Crown hopeful and overwhelming favorite, I'll Have Another, the Belmont did not lack excitement.

Paynter led the longest of the Triple Crown races – a mile and half – from nearly start to finish, but Union Rags was able to make a push in the final hundred yards, eventually surpassing Paynter just before the finish line.

Union Rags opened the day with 3-1 odds to win the Belmont, while Paynter came in at 7-2. Atigun – a 15-1 longshot – finished third.

For more on the 2012 Belmont Stakes, please be sure to check out our blog And Down The Stretch They Come along with SB Nation New York for all the latest news and updates.

Belmont Stakes Results: Union Rags Runs Down Paynter to Capture Last Leg of 2012 Triple Crown (via sbnation)

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Belmont Stakes 2012 Payout: Union Rags Wins 144th Belmont

The 2012 Belmont Stakes was dealt a huge blow when I'll Have Another was scratched the day before the race due to injury. The horse was the overwhelming favorite, and had the opportunity to become horse racing's first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed did so in 1978. But, despite the absence of I'll Have Another, the Belmont provided an exciting finish, as Union Rags surpassed Paynter for the lead in the final stretch, resulting in a photo finish.

Union Rags opened the day as a 3/1 favorite to win the race, while Paynter was a 7/2 favorite. Paynter led for most of the way, but failed to hold off Union Rags in the final 100 yards.

A bet on Union Rags paid $7.50. A two dollar trifecta of 3-9 paid $31.40 and a one dollar trifecta of 3-9-4 paid $248.00.

For more on the 2012 Belmont Stakes, please be sure to check out our blog And Down The Stretch They Come along with SB Nation New York for all the latest news and updates.

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2012 Belmont Stakes Winner: Union Rags Passes Paynter In Final Stretch

The 2012 Belmont Stakes took a huge hit when overwhelming favorite and Triple Crown hopeful, I'll Have Another, was scratched due to injury and was retired prior to the race, but the third leg of horse racing's Triple Crown certainly did not lack excitements.

The longest race of the Triple Crown races was led by Paynter for the majority of the run, but Union Rags made its push in the final stretch and eventually overtook Paynter for the lead with a couple hundred yards remaining, to win the Belmont Stakes.

Union Rags opened the day with 3/1 odds of winning the race. Paynter – the horse finishing second – opened the day as a 7/2 favorite.

Below is a picture of the photo finish:

Nose2_1_medium

via assets.sbnation.com

For more on the 2012 Belmont Stakes, please be sure to check out our blog And Down The Stretch They Come along with SB Nation New York for all the latest news and updates.

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I'll Have Another Will Receive Retirement Ceremony Before Belmont Stakes

I'll Have Another will have a retirement ceremony at the winner's circle before the 2012 Belmont Stakes. The horse was all set to go for the Triple Crown on Saturday, but a tendon injury on Friday morning forced trainer Doug O'Neill to pull him out of the race and announce his retirement. O'Neill believes this move will satisfy the horse's fans:

"We felt that this would be a fitting ceremonial retirement for an incredible racehorse," said O’Neill. "There are many fans who traveled from near and far to see I’ll Have Another today, and we wanted to give them a chance to help us send him off to retirement."

After the Woodford Reserve Manhattan undercard race concludes, I'll Have Another will be brought out to the winner's circle and have his saddle removed by O'Neill. NBC will have the broadcast of this around 5:53 p.m. ET.

I'll Have Another won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, putting him in line to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed accomplished the feat in 1978. The drought of Triple Crown winners will carry over into 2013.

For more on the 2012 Belmont Stakes, please be sure to check out our blog And Down The Stretch They Come along with SB Nation New York for all the latest news and updates.

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The Belmont Stakes 2012: Post Time, TV Coverage, How To Watch Online, Video And More

The 2012 Belmont Stakes has lost much of its luster with Triple Crown hopeful I'll Have Another having been scratched due to injury, but the race still takes place Saturday. Post positions, race information, TV and online coverage information are all below. Dullahan is the new favorite, with Union Rags and Paynter not far behind. With a much smaller field, Union Rags should fare better than he did at the Kentucky Derby, where traffic at the rail pinned him in.

Approximate Post Time: 6:40 p.m. ET

Television Coverage: NBC from 4:30-7 p.m..

Streaming Online: Streaming coverage via NBC Sports from 4:30-7 p.m. ET

Post Positions/Odds:

1. Street Life 8-1

2. Unstoppable U 20-1

3. Union Rags 3-1

4. Atigun 15-1

5. Dullahan 9-5

6. Ravelo's Boy 30-1

7. Five Sixteen 30-1

8. Guyana Star Dweej 30-1

9. Paynter 7-2

10. Optimizer 15-1

12. My Adonis 15-1

SB Nation New York will have news, updates, and results from the 2012 Belmont Stakes. For full time horse racing news and analysis, head over to And Down The Stretch They Come. And don't miss SB Nation on YouTube:

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2012 Belmont Stakes: Updated Morning Line Odds, Reaction With I'll Have Another Out

Dullahan has been established as a 9-5 morning line favorite for Saturday’s 144th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. The race was expected to feature I’ll Have Another in a bid for the first horse racing Triple Crown in 34 years, but a leg injury has forced the horse to be scratched and retired.

"It’s devastating. I really wanted him to compete. This was going to be a special race, one of the biggest races of our time. It’s just devastating," said Dullahan trainer Dale Romans of I’ll Have Another’s injury. "We’re going to inherit the role as favorite, but I’d rather have him in there. I think we could have competed with him and it would have been a great race and great for the sport. It would have been something special to beat him."

Updated Morning Line Odds

1. Street Life 8-1
2. Unstoppable U 20-1
3. Union Rags 3-1
4. Atigun 15-1
5. Dullahan 9-5
6. Ravelo’s Boy 30-1
7. Five Sixteen 30-1
8. Guyana Star Dweej 30-1
9. Paynter 7-2
10. Optimizer 15-1
11. I’ll Have Another [Scratched]
12. My Adonis 15-1

Belmont Stakes 2012: The Triple Crown's Toughest Track (via sbnation)

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I'll Have Another Retired Due To Tendonitis: 2012 Belmont Stakes Takes Hit With Scratching Of Triple Crown Hopeful

A day before he was supposed to fight for the first Triple Crown since 1978 in the 2012 Belmont Stakes, I'll Have Another was retired during a press conference on Friday after experiencing the beginnings of tendonitis in his left front leg.

"This is extremely tough for all of us. Though it's far from tragic, no one died or anything like that, it's extremely disappointing. I feel so sorry for the whole team. We've had such an amazing run," said trainer Doug O'Neill.

O'Neill said that I'll Have Another's team started to notice some "loss of definition" in the horse's left front leg on Thursday, but the swelling went down enough for him to gallop Friday morning. When the swelling returned after the gallop, the team sent I'll Have Another to the doctor, who found the beginnings of tendinitis.

Though O'Neill admitted that "you could give him three-to-six months and start back with him," the team decided unanimously that I'll Have Another should be retired instead.

The horse still could have raced in Saturday's Belmont Stakes, but the team exercised caution and decided it was not in his best interest.

For more on the 2012 Belmont Stakes, please be sure to check out our blog And Down The Stretch They Come along with SB Nation New York for all the latest news and updates.

I'll Have Another Scratched from Belmont Stakes 2012 (via sbnation)


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2012 Belmont Stakes: Tendonitis Cause For I'll Have Another To Scratch

Twitter is running wild with all sorts of speculation about I’ll Have Another, scratched today from the Belmont Stakes, a move that means horse racing will continue waiting for its first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

There are people claiming I’ll Have Another suffered a broken leg. There are the inevitable comparisons to Barbaro.

From the Daily Racing Form, however, trainer Doug O’Neill has a much simpler explanation for scratching the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner.

“He’s got tendonitis in his left front tendon,” O’Neill said. “He’s not 100 percent and I ain’t taking any chances.

“The bottom line is it’s not tragic, no one got killed, there are much bigger issues in the world.”

There will be a press conference held at Belmont Park early this afternoon to discuss the injury. SB Nation New York will get you a report from that event as soon as it becomes available.

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I'll Have Another Scratched From Belmont Stakes, According To Trainer

Horse Racing has not had a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed, in 1978, and the drought will officially last at least another year. I'll Have Another – the winner of both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes – will not race in the 2012 Belmont Stakes, according to his trainer, Doug O'Neill.

O'Neill informed the Dan Patrick Show Friday morning:

Doug O'Neill: "I'll Have Another is officially out of the Belmont."

O'Neill continued, "We ain't taking any chances," and called the late scratch "a bummer, but far from tragic." It appears the horse may have run its last race. A press conference has been scheduled for 1 p.m. ET.

The horse opened Friday morning as a 5/4 favorite to win the race.

For more on the 2012 Belmont Stakes, please be sure to check out our blog And Down The Stretch They Come along with SB Nation New York for all the latest news and updates.

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2012 Belmont Stakes Contenders: Street Life Somewhat Of An Unknown

Street Life will be making his first appearance in any of the Triple Crown races Saturday when he goes to post in the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Street Life has been given 12-1 odds in the morning line of ruining the Triple Crown bid of I’ll Have Another.

Trainer Chad Brown sees Street Life as an improving horse who has yet to peak.

“He’s getting more mature, he’s getting sharper every day I see him training out there,” Brown said. "I think that he’s going to evolve into a more versatile horse, you’re going to see. Whether it’s Saturday or not, I don’t know, but as he matures, he will."

Street Life has the No. 1 post position, and 23 winners have come from that spot — more than any other.

Here is what BelmontStakes.org had to say about Street Life:

Street Life is drawing some attention from handicappers and admittedly does have the perfect racing style for the Belmont. Unlike Bodemeister, Street Life is a stalker/closer who’ll hang back until late in the race. Trainer Chad Brown suggests that that longer the race goes the better his horse gets and if that’s true he could be scary at the 1 ½ mile Belmont distance.

Mike Watchmaker of the Daily Racing Form isn’t sure Street Life is up to the challenge:

“People seem to think he fits here because he comes from way back. I think he’ll be exposed.”

Street Life placed third in the Peter Pan at Belmont in his last race.

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Belmont Stakes Odds 2012: I'll Have Another Overwhelming Favorite The Day Before Race

The 2012 Belmont Stakes will be run on Saturday, June 9, as I'll Have Another looks to become Horse Racing's first Triple Crown winner since 1978. The horse opened as the favorite, with 5/4 odds of winning, but was most recently a 4/5 favorite. As of the day before the race, I'll Have Another's odds have returned to 5/4.

The complete 2012 odds for the Belmont are as follows, via Bovada:

1 - Street Life, 11-1
2 - Unstoppable U, 30-1
3 - Union Rags, 9-2
4 - Atigun, 35-1
5 - Dullahan, 17-4
6 - Ravelo's Boy, 50-1
7 - Five Sixteen, 50-1
8 - Guyana Star Dweej, 60-1
9 - Paynter, 8-1
10 - Optimizer, 25-1
11 - I'll Have Another, 5-4
12 - My Adonis, 30-1

For more on the 2012 Belmont Stakes, please be sure to check out our blog And Down The Stretch They Come along with SB Nation New York for all the latest news and updates.

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Belmont Stakes 2012: Atigun, Unstoppable U Comprise Long-Shot Duo

Trainer Ken McPeek will saddle a pair of 30-1 morning line long shots in the 2012 Belmont Stakes on Saturday. Atigun, owned by Shortleaf Stable, and Unstoppable U, owned by Magdelena Racing, won't be expected to challenge I'll Have Another in his Triple Crown bid. And McPeek knows it.

"We're in a good spot in that Unstoppable U is on the inside and the other horse is coming from behind, that works out well," said McPeek. "But these horses admittedly are not of the class level of I'll Have Another, Dullahan, Union Rags. They haven't proven it at that level. So I really kind of needed to run both of them to have a real shot. "

Neither of these two colts has run in the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Atigun placed fifth in the Arkansas Derby in April and Unstoppable U broke his maiden over six furlongs at Aqueduct in March and won an optional claiming race at Belmont in April over a mile.

BelmontStakes.org says Atigun "could be a three-year-old reaching his prime just in time for this race." The web site is not so kind to Unstoppable U, who is making only his third career start, saying "hard to see how he'll be a factor."

Belmont Stakes: Post Position Draw Analysis, Triple Crown Odds (via sbnation)


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Belmont Stakes 2012 Contenders: Optimizer a 'Good Fit' For Belmont?

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas believes that Optimizer, a 20-1 long shot in Saturday's 144th running of the Belmont Stakes, is a "good fit" for the mile-and-a-half race at Belmont Park.

"I think he's a better fit [than the Kentucky Derby or Preakness], but I'm realistic," Lukas said. "There's better horses in the race but the times that I have won it, there were better horses in the race then, too. So, we'll see. I think we're a good fit."

Others would disagree, questioning whether Optimizer belongs in the 12-horse field as I'll Have Another tries to become horse racing's first Triple Crown winner in 34 years. Optimizer placed sixth in the Preakness Stakes, 11th in the Kentucky Derby and ninth in the Arkansas Derby prior to the Triple Crown races.

From BelmontStakes.org:

"Not sure what Optimizer is doing here. Other than a good trainer in D. Wayne Lukas there's little to recommend about this horse who doesn't seem to have the stamina to go a mile and a half. Only win is his maiden race at Saratoga against a forgettable class. Best finish since then was a second place performance in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. He cashed a nice ‘place' ticket at 28/1 but followed that up with a brutal showing in the Arkansas Derby finishing 9th. ... Given the way he tired on the 1 1/8 mile in Arkansas and finished 11h in the Kentucky Derby hard to see him as a contender in the Belmont. Coming off a 6th place finish in the Preakness. Doesn't look to be a good fit for the distance and the three race in five weeks scheduling won't help."

Analysts from the Daily Racing Form aren't sure why Optimizer is in the field, either.

Says Jay Privman of the DRF:

"I just hope that when he finally goes back to the turf after all this silliness, he's not fried."

The DRF's Mike Watchmaker adds:

"Been in impossible spots so often now it would be a miracle if there is anything left of him."

Optimizer will break from the 10th post position on Saturday.

"Post has no bearing for us," Lukas said. "I don't think anybody was upset with it. I think everybody's happy where they are. It really doesn't mean a lot here. There's a long run and big, sweeping turns, so I don't know that it makes any difference at all."

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Belmont Stakes 2012 Contenders: Paynter Better Than Bodemeister?

Bodemeister finished second in both the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, barely being run down by I'll Have Another in both races. When the 2012 Belmont Stakes is run Saturday Bodemeister will not be in the 12-horse field. His stablemate, Paynter, will be however. And, while he has yet to show it, his handlers believe Paynter might be a better horse than Bodemeister.

"He's more versatile than people think. He can probably do anything," said owner Ahmed Zayat. ""If you asked me personally, I always thought Bodemeister is a very nice colt. [Trainer] Bob Baffert, [from] day 1, thought Paynter was the better horse. He thinks he's a really, really nice horse."

Right now there is only way for Paynter to prove he might be better than Bodemeister. That would be to outrun I'll Have Another Saturday and ruin the Kentucky Derby and Preakness champion's bid to become horse racing's first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Paynter is an 8-1 choice in the morning line odds.

In his last two races, Paynter finished fourth in the Santa Anita Derby in April and won an allowance race at Pimlico in May.

Analysts from the Daily Racing Form give Paynter an excellent chance at pulling the upset on Saturday.

Says Jay Privman of the DRF:

"Though lightly raced, he does not appear to have peaked just yet, and figures as a major player."

Says Mike Watchmaker of the DRF:

"Was close to the favorite 2 months ago, is fast, bred for the trip, and will be on pace. Upsetter."

Belmont Stakes.org says Paynter's "stock continues to rise as the race draws near and gives him a "good chance of finishing in the money and an outside chance of pulling the huge upset and winning the race."

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2012 Belmont Stakes: Union Rags -- Contender Or Pretender?

Union Rags, the 6-1 third choice in the morning line odds for Saturday's 144th running of the Belmont Stakes, is considered a major threat to I'll Have Another in the bid for horse racing's first Triple Crown in 34 years. Union Rags is also seen as one of the most confusing entrants in the 12-horse field.

Union Rags was a 2-5 favorite in the Florida Derby, his last race before the Kentucky Derby, but wound up placing third being Take Charge Indy and Reveron. At one time considered a Kentucky Derby favorite, Union Rags then went to the Derby and placed a disappointing seventh.

"Obviously, we have been a little disappointed, but we still feel Union Rags hasn't run his race," said owner Phyllis Wyeth. "We had some problems in the Derby ... But we still think he can do really, really well."

Union Rags will be ridden by Johnny Velazquez. He was ridden by Julien Leparoux in the Derby.

BelmontStakes.org says:

"There is a growing sentiment among the cognoscenti that Union Rags was merely the victim of a bad trip and poor ride and his failure to win [the Florida Derby] did nothing to downgrade his status as Kentucky Derby contender. His good but not great 7th place finish in the Kentucky Derby did little to clarify the muddled picture."

Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form says:

"Did not have clean trips in his last two starts, pointed for this since the Derby. Very dangerous."

Dangerous enough to wreck I'll Have Another's Triple Crown bid? We will find out soon enough.

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Belmont Stakes 2012: My Adonis Spices Up The Field

My Adonis was a late -- no, make that VERY LATE -- addition to the field for Saturday's 144th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. My Adonis' owners, George and Lori Hall, did not decide to enter the colt in the Belmont until Tuesday night.

"We came to this decision only a few hours ago," said Lori Hall. "Over the last seven to 10 days he's really shown to be eating well and to looking the part. We've just kind of kept in the back of our minds that this could be a possibility, and [trainer] Kelly [Breen] called us today and said, ‘I'm getting that good vibe.' "

The Halls saddled 2011 Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice. Ramon Dominguez is expected to ride My Adonis. The Halls will be looking to become the first owners to register back-to-back triumphs in the Belmont Stakes since Riva Ridge and Secretariat won in 1972 and 1973, respectively, for Meadow Stable.

So, what does My Adonis, listed at 20-1 in the morning line odds, bring to the field? Here is Mike Watchmaker of the Daily Racing Form.

"Took a big step backward in last two, but he's not nearly as silly an entrant as some others."

My Adonis finished third in the 1 1/16th-mile Canonero II Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 19th, the same day as the Preakness Stakes. Prior to that he placed seventh in the Wood Memorial, held in April, and second in the Gotham Stakes in March. Both races were at Aqueduct. In 10 career starts, My Adonis has two firsts, four seconds and two third-place finishes.

My Adonis was an also-eligible for the Kentucky Derby and ended up as a late scratch.

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2012 Belmont Stakes: Post Position Draw Wednesday Morning

Post positions for the 2012 Belmont Stakes will be drawn Wednesday morning. The draw will be streamed live at BelmontStakes.com beginning at 11 a.m. ET.

I’ll Have Another will be seeking horse racing’s first Triple Crown since Affirmed won it in 1978, 34 years ago. There could be as many as 12 horses entered in Saturday’s 144th running of the Belmont, and the post position draw might be crucial. Here is a look at winning Belmont post positions since 1905.

Post Positions/Wins

Post 1 (23 wins)
2 (11)
3 (14)
4 (10)
5 (14)
6 (7)
7 (13)
8 (6)
9 (4)
10 (2)
11 (2)

From the raw numbers it might seem as though an inside post would be advantageous in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont. The numbers may, however, be skewed by historically small Belmont fields.

Since 1978 11 horses have entered the Belmont with a chance at winning the Triple Crown. None, of course, have succeeded.

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Belmont Stakes 2012: Can I'll Have Another Make Triple Crown History?

Since Affirmed won horse racing's Triple Crown in 1978 11 horses have reached the Belmont Stakes with a chance to become the sport's 12th Triple Crown champion. All 11 have failed. Can I'll Have Another, winner of this year's Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, be different?

Maybe.

I'll Have Another ran down Bodemeister in the final yards of both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness to win those races. Bodemeister will not be part of the Belmont field and I'll Have Another is a 3-5 favorite in the Watchmaker Odds. Second choice is Dullahan, third in the Derby, at 5-1 and Union Rags at 6-1.

Long-time horse racing expert Andrew Beyer wrote recently that the Belmont's 1 1/2-mile distance is the primary stumbling block, since horses are no longer bred to run that long distance.

There is, however, a belief that I'll Have Another could be equipped to give horse racing its first Triple Crown in 34 years.

Steve Haskin on BloodHorse makes that case quite well:

I'll Have Another looks as equipped as any other horse we've seen since Spectacular Bid. He has the temperament, the pedigree, the class, the versatility, and the tactical speed to excel over Belmont's grueling 1 1⁄2 miles.

Haskin, however, raises another point in discussing how horse racing -- and the Belmont itself -- have changed since Affirmed won the last Triple Crown in 1978.

"The entire nature of the Belmont Stakes has changed as has the entire nature of training 3-year-olds. Because we have so many late-developing 3-year-olds and so many trainers looking to salvage something out of the Triple Crown, the concept of competition has changed. Whereas during the Triple Crown decades ago the Belmont Stakes was mainly a coronation for the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner who pretty much faced small fields consisting mainly of horses he'd already beaten, today's Derby and Preakness winner must face a large field consisting of a number of fresh faces and horses that ran in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), but skipped the Preakness. Add to the number of legitimate contenders those that run just for the sake of running and you have two major obstacles-fresh, talented horses and a cluttered field, often consisting of several no-hopers with little or no stakes experience."

Doug O'Neill, trainer for I'll Have Another, believes his horse can handle the distance.

"You need a horse that can kind of shut it of early, relax and have energy to finish up. He's programmed that way," O'Neill said. "His personality and his calmness have been a huge part of how he's gotten so far."

Can I'll Have Another go one step farther and do what no horse has done in 34 years? We find out Saturday evening.

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Belmont Stakes 2012 Contenders: Does Guyana Star Dweej Belong In The Field?

Does Guyana Star Dweej really belong in the field for the 2012 Belmont Stakes, which will be held Saturday at Belmont Park. I'll Have Another will be racing for history, trying to become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win horse racing's Triple Crown.

Guyana Star Dweej? Owned by Shivmangal Racing Stable in Woodmere, N.Y., the horse will be stepping up in class -- way up in class -- and trying to prove he should be part of a Triple Crown race. In the early Watchmaker Odds, Guyana Star Dweej is a 50-1 long shot, the longest in the Belmont Stakes field.

After watching Guyana Star Dweej work out earlier this week trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal decided to enter the horse in the highest

A reporter from the Daily Racing Form watched the same workout and came away thinking that might not be a good idea. The DRF wrote:

Guyana Star Dweej became the final prospective Belmont Stakes starter to work prior to the race when breezing an uninspiring half-mile in 49.30 seconds with new rider Kent Desormeaux aboard immediately after the renovation break Monday at Belmont Park.

Guyana Star Dweej worked in company with Shkspeare Shaliyah, his stablemate from the barn of trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal. The team broke off at the half-mile pole, with Guyana Star Dweej nearest the rail, and sizzled through an opening quarter in 22.42. But both horses tired badly once settling into the stretch, completing their final two furlongs in a dismal 26.88, with Shkspeare Shaliyah appearing the stronger of the pair at the end. They galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.36.

Although Guyana Star Dweej's work was obviously better than his aborted try here five days earlier, it hardly suggests that this is a horse is sitting on the type of effort needed to compete with the likes of I'll Have Another or most of the others eyeing Saturday's Belmont.


Guyana Star Dweej Race Results and Past Performances

In an analysis of Belmont contender, BelmontStakes.org is also not certain Guyana Star Dweej belongs in this field.

Lots of in the money finishes in MSW and claiming races, coming off a 2nd in an allowance race at Belmont Park in late April. Who knows what the deal with this horse is? Many observers suggest that Guyana Star Dweej is a ‘jewel in the rough' that could become a solid contender with better training. Passed on the Preakness to target this race at a Belmont track he's comfortable on. Realistically he's in over his head against superior talent and unlikely to finish in the money. Reportedly suffered a minor leg injury before the Preakness.

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Belmont Stakes 2012: Can Dullahan Spoil Triple Crown Party?

Can Dullahan outrun I'll Have Another Saturday during the 2012 Belmont Stakes, spoiling I'll Have Another's bid to become horse racing's first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978? Dullahan finished an impressive third a length-and-a-half back in the Kentucky Derby despite a difficult trip and has been established as the 5-1 second choice in the early Watchmaker Odds.

Dullahan was knocked around at the start of the Derby, then forced to go seven-wide to challenge I'll Have Another on the race's final turn.

"Our horse showed up as we knew he would in the Derby," said Jerry Crawford of Donegal Racing, which owns Dullahan. "When you put a horse out on the track in a 20-horse field, crazy things can happen that keep you from being able to win the race. It's pretty simple."

Dullahan's handlers decided to skip the Preakness Stakes after not winning the Kentucky Derby, with Crawford saying "If your horse doesn't have a chance for the Triple Crown and you think you may have the best 3-year-old in the country, I don't think you run your horse three times in five weeks."

With that kind of confidence in the horse there was no way Dullahan was going to be held out of the Belmont.

"Well, it could just as easily have been us going for the Triple Crown," Crawford said, "and if it were, I would expect the best horses in the world to come and try and make sure we deserve the Triple Crown. I think you owe that to the Secretariats and Affirmeds of the world and the history of the sport."

Trainer Dale Romans also expressed confidence in Dullahan heading into the Belmont.

"I think we're the horse to beat," Romans said. "I'm happy with my position," he said. "I wouldn't change places with anybody in this race."

Dullahan, who won the 11/8-mile Kentucky Blue Grass Stakes earlier this year, will be ridden by Javier Castellano.

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2012 Belmont Stakes News And Notes: Guyana Star Dweej, I'll Have Another And More

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The 2012 Belmont Stakes, where I'll Have Another will bid to become horse racing's first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, is drawing closer. Here are your Belmont Stakes news and notes for this Tuesday.

Beyer: Triple Crown drought result of change in breeding priorities | Daily Racing Form
As I’ll Have Another tries to become racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 34 years, plenty of casual fans will be asking: Why is this feat so difficult? Why is it more difficult than it was in the 1970s, when three different horses in a span of six years swept the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes?

Some of the explanations are relatively obvious. Three demanding races in a five-week period constitute a tough grind for contemporary horses, who are generally less robust than their forebears. Moreover, the Triple Crown races draw bigger fields than in the past, because so many owners and trainers are obsessed by winning these events. When Citation swept the series in 1948, he beat 15 opponents in the three races combined. I’ll Have Another had to defeat 19 in the Derby alone.

While these factors are undeniably significant, there is another theory to explain the difficulty of winning the contemporary Triple Crown: The obstacle is not the Triple Crown itself. The real stumbling block is the 1 1/2-mile distance of the Belmont Stakes.

Guyana Star Dweej Works; On to Belmont | BloodHorse.com
After watching Guyana Star Dweej put in a half-mile work on Belmont Park’s main track June 4, owner-trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal confirmed the colt will make his next start in the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

“Guyana Star is in the Belmont,” Shivmangal said. “I was very pleased with him yesterday morning, but I am more pleased today. We were able to beat the weather, and he did what he needed to do. I think Guyana Star is back on the straight path again.”

The Daily Racing Form was not nearly as impressed with Guyana Star's work, however. It said:

Guyana Star Dweej became the final prospective Belmont Stakes starter to work prior to the race when breezing an uninspiring half-mile in 49.30 seconds with new rider Kent Desormeaux aboard immediately after the renovation break Monday at Belmont Park.

Guyana Star Dweej worked in company with Shkspeare Shaliyah, his stablemate from the barn of trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal. The team broke off at the half-mile pole, with Guyana Star Dweej nearest the rail, and sizzled through an opening quarter in 22.42. But both horses tired badly once settling into the stretch, completing their final two furlongs in a dismal 26.88, with Shkspeare Shaliyah appearing the stronger of the pair at the end. They galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.36.

Although Guyana Star Dweej’s work was obviously better than his aborted try here five days earlier, it hardly suggests that this is a horse is sitting on the type of effort needed to compete with the likes of I’ll Have Another or most of the others eyeing Saturday’s Belmont.

I'll Have Another to Stakes Barn on June 5 | BloodHorse.com
Trainer Doug O’Neill said I'll Have Another, who is seeking to win the elusive Triple Crown in the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), will relocate Tuesday, June 5, to the barn set aside for Belmont contenders.

The Empire State Building Will Shine Purple, White, And Green In Honor Of The 2012 Belmont Stakes

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Belmont Stakes 2012: Dullahan, Union Rags Impress

Dullahan and Union Rags are considered the biggest threats to I'll Have Another on Saturday in his bid for the Triple Crown during the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. Both horses were impressive during training runs on Sunday.

2012 Belmont Stakes: Dullahan makes fast workout look easy | Daily Racing Form
ELMONT, N.Y. - Jockey Javier Castellano was walking Dullahan back to trainer Dale Romans's barn after having just worked the third-place finisher in this year’s Kentucky Derby a half-mile Sunday morning at Belmont Park when he stopped briefly to ask the gap attendant how fast he’d gone.

“The man said ‘45’ and I said no way, that can’t be right, it’s too fast,” said Castellano, who had never been on Dullahan prior to Sunday’s work and who’ll ride the Blue Grass winner for the first time in the Belmont Stakes.

In actuality, Dullahan completed a half-mile in an eye-catching 45.82 seconds, according to Daily Racing Form, following an opening quarter mile in 22.20.

“I’m very happy,” said Romans. “I don’t care what the time was, he did it the right way. It looked like he was galloping. He did the same thing before the Blue Grass and that was the best race he’s ever run. I think he’s sharp right now and on top of his game. Everybody keeps talking about the dirt, but that proves it today. He’s going to run well over this racetrack. I wouldn’t trade places with anybody in the Belmont.”

2012 Belmont Stakes: Union Rags impresses Velazquez on Sunday with powerful work at Fair Hill | Daily Racing Form
ELKTON, Md. - As John Velazquez galloped a strong Union Rags through the stretch of the near-empty Fair Hill training center dirt track Sunday morning, he thought to himself ‘Oh my God, what is this thing?’ ”

About a minute later he found out. Sitting on Union Rags for the first time, Velazquez guided the powerhouse 3-year-old through a five-furlong workout that Daily Racing Form timed in 58.50 seconds.

“Very nice, very impressive,” Velazquez said. “Thankfully, I didn’t let him out too soon. He would’ve gone by the horse very easy. I waited with him till the quarter pole, eased out a little bit from behind him, and at the eighth pole I just gave him his head and he was gone. I didn’t have to ask him for anything. He did it by himself.”

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2012 Belmont Stakes: Where Does It Rank On 2012 New York Sports Scene?

Where does the 2012 Belmont Stakes rank among New York sports stories thus far in 2012? We take a look

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2012 Belmont Stakes: Watchmaker Odds Released, I'll Have Another 3-5 Favorite

As official training sessions took place Sunday at Belmont Park and times for some thoroughbreds became available for oddsmakers, the first of many lines have been released. The Watchmaker odds, made famously by Daily Racing Form oddsmaker Mike Watchmaker, have Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner I'll Have Another as a 3-5 favorite to win the last leg of the Triple Crown.

I'll Have Another is trying to become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the crown of all three races, while Dullahan (5-1), Union Rags (6-1) and Paynter (8-1) are the best bets, respectively, to upend the favorite, says Watchmaker.

Here's a complete look at the Watchmaker odds and the possible field for the Belmont Stakes as of Sunday, June 3:

Atigun


30-1


Dullahan



5-1

Five Sixteen

50-1

Guyana Star Dweej

50-1

I'll Have Another

3-5

Optimizer

30-1

Paynter

8-1

Ravelo's Boy

50-1

Street Life

15-1

Union Rags

6-1

Unstoppable U

30-1

Stay with our Belmont Stakes coverage with this Storystream. You can also visit anddownthestretchtheycome for more on the race.

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2012 Belmont Stakes: Horses Begin Official Workouts, While I'll Have Another Takes It Easy

The 2012 Belmont Stakes, the final leg of horse racing Triple Crown, is less than a week away, which means the workout for the horses competing have stepped up. On Saturday, about a half-dozen thoroughbreds took part in official timed workouts which were posted by BloodHorse.com:

Atigun – Official work of four furlongs breezing in :48.55; two furlongs in :24.30, galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.63
Dullahan – Official work of four furlongs breezing in :45.97; two furlongs in :22.20, galloped out five furlongs in :58.91.
Paynter – Official work of seven furlongs breezing in 1:25; two furlongs in :24.66, four furlongs in :49.22, galloped out a mile in 1:38.
Street Life – Official work of five furlongs breezing in 1:01.15; two furlongs in :25.01, galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.55.
Unstoppable U – Official work of five furlongs breezing in 1:02.05, two furlongs in :25.91, galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.55.

Meanwhile, Triple Crown hopeful I'll Have Another took his usual one-mile gallop around Belmont Park.

Stay with our Belmont Stakes coverage with this Storystream. You can also visit anddownthestretchtheycome for more on the race.

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2012 Belmont Stakes: I'll Have Another Breezes Again

Triple Crown hopeful I’ll Have Another took advantage of the newly-created 15-minute window for Belmont Stakes contenders only to breeze the Belmont Park main track Friday morning.

A special 15-minute window beginning at 8:30 a.m. was created after I’ll Have Another was nearly run into by another horse on Thursday.

“He went great,” said trainer Doug O’Neill of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, who is bidding to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner and first in 34 years. “I’ll Have Another ate up everything last night, his legs are looking great and he’s got great energy. I loved the way he trained out there. He’s maintained his beautiful stride.”

Several other Belmont Stakes hopefuls — Paynter, Atigun, Unstoppable U, Five Sixteen and Guyana Star Dweej — also worked during the private window.

“That was so cool,” O,’Neill said. "We got a chance to see a couple of the other Belmont hopefuls as well. They looked great out there. It was a great experience and I really appreciate Mr. [P.J.] Campo and the rest of The New York Racing [Association] people for letting us have 15 minutes of safe environment.”

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2012 Belmont Stakes News And Notes: Belmont Contenders Get Own Training Time

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In the wake of Thursday's incident where another horse nearly ran into Triple Crown hopeful I'll Have Another during training on the Belmont Park main track NYRA has designated a specific time where Belmont Stakes entrants will have the track to themselves. Here is more on that, and other notes on the June 9 Belmont.

NYRA sets aside training time for Belmont contenders after near mishap - Thoroughbred Times
The New York Racing Association (NYRA) will designate a specific time each day for Belmont Stakes contenders to train following a near-accident on Thursday at the track.

Just hours after the incident, NYRA announced that starting Friday, the only horses that will be allowed to train over the Belmont Park main track from 8:30 to 8:45 a.m., following the maintenance break, will be Belmont Stakes contenders. Belmont contenders will not be required to train during this timeframe, but any contenders who choose the time will have the track reserved for them.

Also Thursday, NYRA announced that Barn 2 will serve as the secured Belmont Stakes Barn. The barn will be ready for Belmont contenders to move into on Tuesday, June 5. Horses are required to be housed in the barn by June 6, per Wednesday's announcement of special security protocols by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.

Union Rags Impacted By Stakes Barn Decision | BloodHorse.com
The one horse affected the most by this ruling is Union Rags, who is based at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland. Trainer Michael Matz had originally planned to ship the son of Dixie Union to Belmont either June 7 or early June 8.

"It’s not really a big deal, but what I’m disappointed in most is the lack of uniformity," Matz said. "What’s good for New York should be good for Maryland, and what’s good for Maryland should be good for Kentucky. A decision like this should have been made after the Preakness in order to allow trainers to be aware of it and adjust to it."

Matz is trying to set a schedule to assure that Union Rags doesn’t miss any training on June 6. But nowhere in the SRWB press release does it say what time the horses have to be in the barn or where the barn is located.

Triple Crown near-misses: Spectacular Bid, 1979 | Daily Racing Form
It took a lot to beat Spectacular Bid. In a run of 26 races, from the end of his 2-year-old season to the fall at age 4, he lost just twice – by three-quarters of a length to the older Affirmed in the 1979 Jockey Club Cold Cup and in the 1979 Belmont Stakes, with the Triple Crown on the line.

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2012 Belmont Stakes News And Notes: Alpha Drops Out Due To Fever

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Alpha, the 12th place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, will not run in the June 9 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park after developing a fever, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Thursday.

McLaughlin said the situation was "unfortunate," but with the horse's temperature having spiked to 103 he would be held out of the Belmont.

Alpha was a 15-1 shot to win the Belmont Stakes in preliminary odds.

Affirmed's Owner Ready to Pass the TC Torch | BloodHorse.com
Affirmed, the last horse to sweep the Triple Crown. We’ve been hearing that now for 34 years. Eleven horses have won the first two legs since Affirmed in 1978 and all came up short in the Belmont Stakes. Some appeared worthy at the time of joining the 11 immortals that have accomplished racing’s most difficult feat, while others did not.

Patrice Wolfson, who owned Affirmed with her husband Louis under the banned Harbor View Farm, feels it’s time to pass the torch to a horse she believes is worthy to follow in the footsteps of Affirmed.

"There were years I felt it wasn’t the right time to relinquish (the title of ‘last Triple Crown winner’)," Wolfson said on a national teleconference. "But I think the time is right. This little guy (I'll Have Another) would be a worthy successor. He’s very tenacious in the stretch, he strides out beautifully in his gallops, and is a very exciting horse to watch. There’s something about him that reminds me a little of Affirmed, the way he wants to win. I just think it’s time. Racing needs a star and he could be a star."

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2012 Belmont Stakes: State Sets Protocols For Horses Leading Up To Race

Earlier Wednesday, PETA released a letter asking for 24-hour surveillance on Triple Crown hopeful I'll Have Another leading up to the June 9 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Well, whether it has anything to do with pressure from PETA or not, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board has issued a set of protocols for all horses entered in the race.

"Millions of race fans from around the world will be witnessing a historic spectacle at New York's beautiful Belmont Park on June 9, and the Racing and Wagering Board will ensure that the race is run in a safe and fair manner," Racing and Wagering Board Chairman John D. Sabini said. "The protocols put forth here will protect horses, riders and the betting public and underscore the symbolism of the world-class racing held in New York State."

The protocols will include all horses entered in the race being stalled in a secure area beginning June 6. A blood test will also be taken on all entrants that day.

PETA had asked for special attention for I'll Have Another due to trainer Dou O'Neill drug suspension by the California Racing Board.

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2012 Belmont Stakes: PETA Wants 24-Hour Surveillance On I'll Have Another

In the walk of Doug O’Neill, trainer for Triple Crown hopeful I’ll Have Another, being suspended by the California Racng Board for allegedly giving a horse an illegal performance-enhancer, PETA has requested a 24-hour watch on I’ll Have Another leading up to the Belmont.

“Doug O’Neill’s shocking record of drug violations risks horses’ lives and damages the already tarnished image of thoroughbred racing,” says PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange. “Governor Cuomo can put substance behind his promises by telling racing officials not to allow I’ll Have Another out of their sight for a minute.”

PETA (People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals) sent its request to New York’s governor because the state recently took control of the New York Racing Association (NYRA).

PETA wants I’ll Have Another housed in a ‘secure detention barn’ monitored by state racing officials, as well as blood testing, controls on medications given to the horse and also asks that food and water be supplied by an independent source.

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2012 Belmont Stakes: TV Coverage Being Expanded By NBC

I'll Have Another will be bidding to become horse racing's first Triple Crown winner since 1978 in the Belmont Stakes on June 9 at Belmont Park. NBC Sports, which holds the broadcast rights for the event, will try to take full advantage. The network says that both NBC and NBC Sports Network will combine for "extensive additional coverage" beyond the 61/2 hours initially planned.

USA Today says that since 2000 Belmont Stakes broadcasts not involving a potential Triple Crown have drawn a 4 percent share of U.S. households, while races with a potential Triple Crown winner garnered a 10.1 percent share.

Post time for the Belmont Stakes is 6:30 p.m. ET. Live coverage on NBC is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Exact details of the additional coverage have not yet been released. We will pass them along when they are made available.

In the meantime, stay with our Belmont Stakes Storystream for all your Belmont Stakes news, odds and analysis. You can also visit anddownthestretchtheycome for more on the race.

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2012 Belmont Stakes News And Notes: I'll Have Another Gets Heavyweight Help

I'll Have Another is receiving some heavyweight help recently in preparing for his bid for horse racing's Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes June 9 at Belmont Park. Billy Hunter, trainer for 1977 Triple Crown champion Seattle Slew, and Hall of Fame jockey Richard Migliore are sharing wisdom with I'll Have Another's team.

Belmont Stakes 2012: O'Neill consults with Billy Turner, Seattle Slew's trainer | Daily Racing Form
Doug O’Neill wasn’t so much interested in talking to the connections of the recent horses who attempted – and failed – to win the Triple Crown. Instead, O’Neill wanted to talk someone who actually accomplished the feat.

So on Tuesday morning, about two hours after watching I’ll Have Another gallop a strong mile at Belmont Park, O’Neill had a little sit-down with Billy Turner, the trainer of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.

Sitting at a table outside Barn 9 for approximately 40 minutes, O’Neill picked Turner’s brain about his experiences some 35 years ago.

“He’s done what I’m hoping and dreaming of doing,” O’Neill said later in the day. “The one thing he said, which we’re already doing, was getting him here early and training over the track. He said, ‘That’s the biggest suggestion I would have given you had you asked me.’ He was such a class act, just very complimentary to the whole staff.”

'The Mig' to Tour Belmont Oval With Gutierrez | BloodHorse.com

As jockey Mario Gutierrez prepares for a coveted Triple Crown in the June 9 Belmont Stakes, he will have the advice of retired rider Richard Migliore, who recorded 1,352 wins at Belmont Park during his career.

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2012 Belmont Odds: I'll Have Another 5-4 Favorite In Preliminary Odds

Preliminary odds have been set for the 2012 Belmont Stakes, and the current betting odds show I'll Have Another as a heavy favorite to win horse racing's first Triple Crown since Affirmed did so in 1978.

Union Rags (5-1), Dullahan (11-2) and Paynter (9-1) appear to be the primary challengers according to the early odds.

Horse Odds
Alpha 15-1
Atigun 15-1
Dullahan 11-2
Five Sixteen 50-1
Guyana Star Dweej 50-1
I’ll Have Another 5-4
Optimizer 30-1
Paynter 9-1
Street Life 12-1
Union Rags 5-1
Unstoppable U 28-1
Ravelo's Boy 50-1

Entries for the June 9 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park have not yet been finalized, and the odds will change between now and race day. Undoubtedly, though, I'll Have Another should remain a heavy betting favorite.

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2012 Belmont Stakes: Dullahan Arrives At Belmont Park

Dullahan, expected to be one of the primary challengers for I'll Have Another in his bid for horse racing's first Triple Crown since 1978, arrived at Belmont Park early Monday morning to continue preparations for the Belmont Stakes.

"He'll jog in the morning, gallop a few days, and breeze on Saturday," said trainer Dale Romans. "He came out of the Derby in great shape. He's happy, fresh, [and the race] didn't seem to knock him out any. He has the extra time between races, and he's doing great."

Dullahan placed third in the Kentucky Derby behind I'll Have Another and Bodemeister, but did not run in the Preakness Stakes.

I'll Have Another worked Monday morning, jogging a half-mile and galloping a mile.

"If any of you guys got a chance to see him, I think he's maintained his energy level and his stride, and he looks fantastic," said trainer Doug O'Neill at his daily press briefing. "Today the track was, according to the crew, at its deepest and most tiring, so it was good to get him over that, and he recovered very quickly and drank a very little bit of water. So he's fit, and we have to stay lucky and stay injury-free and we'll be in great shape."

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2012 Belmont Stakes News And Notes: Ravelo's Boy Will Enter

The 2012 Belmont Stakes is less than two weeks away, with I'll Have Another bidding to become horse racing's first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Here is what is making news for the Belmont today.

Ravelo's Boy Confirmed for Belmont Stakes | BloodHorse.com
Following a seven-furlong work in 1:28 1/5 over a fast track at Calder Casino & Race Course Sunday morning, trainer Manny Azpurua confirmed that Korina Stable’s Ravelo's Boy, last seen finishing fifth in the Tampa Bay Derby March 10, will make his next start in the Belmont Stakes June 9.

I'll Have Another's trainer has a lot on his plate
Doug O'Neill said he slept "like a log" on the red-eye from California, and soon after landing in New York on Sunday, he saw his superstar colt for the first time in a week.

Can I'll Have Another end Triple Crown drought?
As Real Quiet burst clear by four lengths under Kent Desormeaux at the eighth pole in the 1998 Belmont Stakes, it looked as if America finally would celebrate a 12th Triple Crown. Then Victory Gallop began closing in, and one of the most memorable stretch duels of all time was on.

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Belmont Stakes 2012: I'll Have Another Gallops At Belmont Park, Gets Praise From Affirmed Jockey

For the second straight day Saturday, the Triple Crown hopeful I'll Have Another galloped on the track of Belmont Park. Preparing for the Belmont Stakes, June 9, I'll Have Another looked good in the sunshine.

"We did exactly the same as we did yesterday, the only thing different was the sunshine – it’s been a beautiful morning here at Belmont,’ said trainer Doug O’Neill’s assistant, Jack Sisterson. "Obviously, he could tell the sun was out. He went fantastic over the track again this morning. So far, so good."

The workout came on the heels of a special event at Belmont Park, which featured Hall of Fame jockey Steve Cauthen signing autographs. Cauthen was the jockey who rode Affirmed, the last Triple Crown winner, to a victory in 1978

Cauthen was asked about I'll Have Another, and he admitted he's been impressed by the horse:

“He’s relaxed, he’s a fighter, and he’s got that desire to win,” said Cauthen of I’ll Have Another. “There’s no reason he won’t get 1 ½ miles as well as anybody else in the race, especially because of his relaxed nature.”

Since 1978, 11 horses have had a chance to win the Triple Crown, but all of them have failed to complete the accomplishment at the Belmont.

For more on the Belmont Stakes, please be sure to visit our blog And Down The Stretch They Come along with SB Nation New York.

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Belmont Stakes 2012: I'll Have Another Gallops First Mile Since Arriving At Belmont Park

I'll Have Another galloped at Belmont Park for the first time since arriving in New York after winning the Preakness Stakes.

As I'll Have Another made his way around the track with stable pony Lava Man, it was anything but a dry run in a steady rain. Humberto Gomez, the exercise rider for I'll Have Another kept the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner in the middle of the track for a mile run.

"He looked super," said Jack Sisterson, assistant to trainer Doug O'Neill. "One thing we were looking to see how he got over the track, stride-wise, and he looked fantastic. The rider said he felt good, and he's happy, so we're happy."

I'll Have Another could run against as many as 11 horses on June 9. The three-year-old colt will try to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown since 1978.

For more on the Belmont Stakes, please be sure to visit our blog And Down The Stretch They Come along with SB Nation New York.

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2012 Belmont Stakes: Creative Cause Won't Race At Belmont

I'll Have Another will have one less horse beat at the 2012 Belmont Stakes, as Creative Cause will skip the race. Creative Cause finished fifth at the Kentucky Derby and third at the Preakness.

Mike Harrington – Creative Cause's trainer – said there are no medical problems with his horse, but cited 'rest' as the reason for skipping the Belmont:

"He's fine, we just elected to give him a little rest," Harrington said. "He's had a tough campaign and he deserves a break ..."

Creative Cause's absence may be a significant help to I'll Have Another's chaces of winning the Belmont, as the horse defeated I'll Have Another at last year's Best Pal Stakes, and narrowly lost at the Santa Anita Derby.

I'll Have Another will look to be the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.

For more on the Belmont Stakes, please be sure to visit our blog And Down The Stretch They Come along with SB Nation New York.

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2012 Belmont Stakes: I'll Have Another Back On Track

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Here are your 2012 Belmont Stakes news and notes for today, including the return to the track of I'll Have Another.

I'll Have Another Returns To Track

Triple Crown hopeful I'll Have Another returned to the track for the first time since Saturday's Preakness victory, jogging around Belmont Park's 1 ½-mile oval Wednesday morning shortly after the renovation break with exercise rider Hector Ramos aboard.

"We took him to the track and jogged him once around, and he looked absolutely super," said Jack Sisterson, assistant to trainer Doug O'Neill. "The way he looked was everything and more I'd want to see in him. Energy level was high, got over the ground well, ate up everything last night. Just looks super. He came out of the Derby in the exact same shape, and came out of the Preakness, if not the same, probably better."

Union Rags Looking For Clean Trip In Belmont

Trainer Michael Matz said that Union Rags will work either Thursday or Friday at Fair Hill training center in preparation for the Belmont, in which he will have the services of new jockey John Velazquez.

"It's been frustrating, I don't think in either of his last two races he got a chance to really run," said Matz of Union Rags. "I just hope he gets a clean trip. Whether he's good enough to beat [I'll Have Another], I don't know. I just want him to get a clean trip and show what he can do.

"I wouldn't be going in [the Belmont] if I didn't think he could beat I'll Have Another," he added. "He's a big horse, and once he gets into a nice rhythm ... that's why we went with John Velazquez. He knows New York."

Dullahan Trainer Wants To Make I'll Have Another Earn Triple Crown

If Dullahan were to spoil the Triple Crown bid, would trainer Dale Romans feel any remorse?

"Absolutely not," Romans said without hesitation during a Wednesday teleconference. "I think we owe it to the past Triple Crown winners to make [I'll Have Another] earn it. If he's a super horse, like Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Secretariat, and some of our past Triple Crown winners, then he'll win it. If not, we'll be able to beat him."

Super Mario's Amazing Journey Continues | BloodHorse.com
"I’m trying not to think too much about the Belmont," Gutierrez said on a national teleconference that seemed to bring out just about every journalist in Western Canada. "I just want to chill out a little. When the time comes I’ll start preparing for the Belmont. I’ll get there early and ride over the track and watch video of past Triple Crown winners and the horses in the Belmont. I try not to put too much pressure on myself. Whatever is meant to happen will happen. If I give 100 percent and I’ll Have Another gives 100 percent I’ll be happy. So far, he’s always given me 100 percent and that’s what gives me so much confidence."

So much has happened in his life since the day he was told by agent Ivan Puhich to go to O’Neill’s barn and work one of his 3-year-olds that was supposed to be a runner, having already finished second in last year’s Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) behind grade I winner Creative Cause before being sidelined with sore shins suffered in the Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes (gr. I).

"At first I thought he was joking," Gutierrez said. "I was surprised the way the horse moved. I knew right away he was a good horse. I told my agent afterward they weren’t going to use me on a horse this good. He was different from any other horse I’ve ever ridden. He was so professional the way he moved. It was like being in an expensive sports car with a lot of gears. He’d go faster every time you asked him. You have no idea how much he loves racing. He never hesitates. He loves to fight and catch horses. It’s an amazing feeling to be on top of him. I’m positive he knows exactly where the wire is. He’s capable of doing amazing things and has the biggest heart ever."

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2012 Belmont Stakes Facts & Figures: 19 Failed Attempts At Triple Crown Glory

I'll Have Another will try on June 9 at the Belmont Stakes to become the 12th Triple Crown winner in horse racing history, and the first since Affirmed in 1978. Nineteen horses have tried and failed to do what I'll Have Another will attempt during the 1.5-mile 'Test of Champions' at Belmont Park. Four of those failed attempts at Triple Crown glory have come since 2002.

Here is the complete list of horses who won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, only to fall short in the Belmont Stakes.

Year Horse Owner Winner
1944 Pensive Calumet Farm Bounding Home
1958 Tim Tam Calumet Farm Cavan
1961 Carry Back Mrs. Katherine Price Sherluck
1964 Northern Dancer Windfields Farm Quadrangle
1966 Kauai King Michael Ford Amberoid
1968 Forward Pass Calumet Farm Stage Door Johnny
1969 Majestic Prince Frank McMahon Arts And Letters
1971 Canonero II Edgard Caibett Pass Catcher
1979 Spectacular Bid Hawksworth Farm Coastal
1981 Pleasant Colony Buckland Farm Summing
1987 Alysheba Dorothy & Pamela Scharbauer Bet Twice
1989 Sunday Silence Arthur Hancock Ill Easy Goer
1997 Silver Charm Bob & Beverly Lewis Touch Gold
1998 Real Quiet Michael Pegram Victory Gallop
1999 Charismatic Bob & Beverly Lewis Lemon Drop Kid
2002 War Emblem Ahmed bin Salman Sarava
2003 Funny Cide Sackatoga Stable Empire Maker
2004 Smarty Jones Someday Farm Birdstone
2008 Big Brown IEAH Stables Da’ Tara
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2012 Belmont Stakes News And Notes: Union Rags, I'll Have Another And More

Among Wednesday's Belmont Stakes news and notes Union Rags has a new jockey, I'll Have Another is a "very happy horse", Preakness Stakes TV ratings were down and New York state reorganizes NYRA.

Belmont Stakes News » Velazquez to replace Leparoux aboard Union Rags
John Velazquez has picked up the mount on Union Rags, trainer Michael Matz said Tuesday.

The switch was not a surprise. The connections of Union Rags were not happy with how things unfolded for Union Rags in his last two starts, both with Julien Leparoux. And Velazquez was considered one of the top contenders to replace him.

Leparoux had ridden Union Rags in the Kentucky Derby, in which Union Rags finished seventh after a troubled trip. Leparoux also rode Union Rags in the Florida Derby, in which he finished third.

“We felt we had to make a change,” said Matz, who trains Union Rags for Phyllis Wyeth.

“What happened before, in the last two races, it can happen to any one of them. He doesn’t look like he’s difficult to ride. He does have a big, long stride, and you need to let him use that stride.”

Belmont Stakes News » I'll Have Another 'Happy Horse' - May 22, 2012
Triple Crown hopeful I’ll Have Another was a “very happy horse” Tuesday morning as he continued to settle nicely into his new digs at Belmont Park, where on June 9 he will attempt to become the 12th horse to add the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes to victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

“He walked again this morning,” said Jack Sisterson, assistant to trainer Doug O’Neill, of I’ll Have Another, who arrived Sunday from Pimlico. “He looks great, fantastic. He’s a very happy horse. The main thing with this horse is, we can ship him around, and he settles right in. He just takes everything into stride.”

National TV Ratings For Preakness Decline | BloodHorse.com
National ratings for the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) May 19 dropped compared to year-ago numbers, according to figures released by NBC Sports Group. Approximately 8.1 viewers saw I'll Have Another win the second leg of the Triple Crown from Pimlico Race Course near Baltimore, down from 8.8 million viewers last year, a drop of 7 percent.

Cuomo Announces NYRA Board Reorganization | BloodHorse.com
The New York Racing Association board of directors will be dominated by a new panel of members selected by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders under a deal announced May 22.

The agreement was unanimously by NYRA board members, who have been under fire from the Cuomo administration over everything from a pari-mutuel takeout scandal to equine deaths at Aqueduct Racetrack. The weaker role on the NYRA board for racing industry insiders will last three years for a new panel being called the NYRA Reorganization Board.

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2012 Belmont Stakes Facts & Figures: Triple Crown Winners

Triplecrown_silks_medium

Leading up to the Triple Crown bid by I'll Have Another at the 2012 Belmont Stakes on June 9 at Belmont Park we will be posting a series of 'Belmont Stakes Facts & Figures.' As often as we can leading up I'll Have Another's run for horse racing history we will provide you with interesting, hopefully useful, snippets of information.

There really is only one place to start. That is with the complete list of Triple Crown winners. There have been 11 of them in horse racing history. The list is as follows:

1919 -- Sir Barton
1930 -- Gallant Fox
1935 -- Omaha
1937 -- War Admiral
1941 -- Whirlaway
1943 -- Count Fleet
1946 -- Assault
1948 -- Citation
1973 -- Secretariat
1977 -- Seattle Slew
1978 -- Affirmed

-- For more on each of the 11 Triple Crown champions, you can see BelmontStakes.org. Can I'll Have Another win 'The Test Of Champions?' Some thoughts on that in the SB Nation YouTube video below.

Triple Crown 2012: I'll Have Another Wins Preakness Stakes (via sbnation)


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2012 Belmont Stakes: Steve Cauthen Gives I'll Have Another 'Good Chance' At Triple Crown

Horse racing's last Triple Crown came in 1978, when Affirmed held off Alydar in the final strides of the Belmont Stakes to beat his famed rival for the third straight time. Steve Cauthen, then an unknown teen-ager, was the jockey for Affirmed. He finds the comparisons with I'll Have Another, and the horse's unknown jockey -- Mario Gutierrez -- inevitable.

``I guess I'm having a flashback,'' Cauthen told The Associated Press May 20 from his breeding farm in Verona, Ky. ``He's a new kid on the block like I was. The kid's got a great attitude and a great smile. And, like me, he's been put in a position to ride in these kinds of races and a shot at maybe winning the Triple Crown."

Cauthen believes I'll Have Another has a "good chance" at breaking the 34-year Triple Crown draught.``Horses that seem to come out of their races pretty well, it means they don't bother themselves, and that's a huge benefit when you've got three tough races,'' Cauthen said. ``It's like three title fights in five weeks. You are taking on the best around. With Affirmed, he always did the right thing. He didn't waste any energy. And when it came down to a battle, he thrived on it.

``This horse (I'll Have Another) looks like he's got that fighting spirit. He likes a game, and he wants to win and he can't wait to get another battle. He thrives on it and to me that's why more than anything he's got a good chance.''

On June 9, we find out if Cauthen is right.

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2012 Belmont Stakes News And Notes: Tickets, Kent Desormeaux, I'll Have Another

With a Triple Crown on the line in less than three weeks at Belmont Park, here are some Tuesday morning news and notes from the 2012 Belmont Stakes.

Belmont tickets sell out online in less than five minutes - Thoroughbred Times
Reserved seat tickets to the Belmont Stakes, fairly easy to get when no Triple Crown is on the line, sold out at a rapid pace as thousands of fans and undoubtedly scores of ticket brokers snapped them all up after Ticketmaster offered a group of seat tickets online starting at 10 a.m. EDT on Monday.

The New York Racing Association communications office and Jerry Davis, NYRA's director of admissions and parking, said the allotment of 3,000 tickets offered on Ticketmaster sold out in three minutes.

Desormeaux loses mount on Dullahan for Belmont - Thoroughbred Times
Racing Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux has lost his mount on Kentucky Derby third-place finisher Dullahan for the colt's expected start in the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 9, according to owner Jerry Crawford of Donegal Racing.

Crawford confirmed to the Des Moines Register on Monday that prominent New York-based jockey Javier Castellano will ride Dullahan in the Belmont. Desormeaux was replaced as the rider for eventual Preakness Stakes eighth-place finisher Tiger Walk last Friday after failing a Breathalyzer test at Belmont Park.

"We have loved our association with Kent Desormeaux and hope to use him again in the future," Crawford wrote to the Iowa paper.

"We are confident that Kent will address his issues and be back at the track better than ever, and we hope to ride him when that happens."

Belmont Stakes News » I'll Have Another Content at Belmont, Could Soon Resume Training
Triple Crown hopeful I’ll Have Another was reported to be doing well the morning after he arrived at Belmont Park by van and will soon begin training on the Belmont main track, according to Jack Sisterson, assistant to trainer Doug O’Neill.

“He looks fantastic this morning,” said Sisterson. “He ate everything up last night and is a very happy horse. He walked the shedrow this morning. I have to speak with Doug, but it’s likely he will go to the main track at some point this week.”

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Belmont Stakes 2012: Mark Valeski Looking Doubtful To Challenge I'll Have Another At Belmont Park

Mark Valeski, a three-year-old colt expected to challenge I'll Have Another at Belmont Park in the upcoming 2012 Belmont Stakes, is reportedly looking doubtful for the race. Mark Valeski would likely be one of the primary challengers to I'll Have Another's Triple Crown bid if he does run.

Mark Valeski is based out of Churchill Downs and won the Peter Pan Stakes (Grade 2) at Belmont on May 12. The horse's trainer, Larry Jones, said that his Mark Valeski hasn't worked out since the victory and appears to be lacking energy.

"It's looking like the Belmont is more and more doubtful," Jones said.

The draw for the Belmont Stakes is scheduled for June 6. Jones also indicated that the Dwyer Stakes (Grade II) on June 30 might be a better option for Mark Valeski's next race.

I'll Have Another, having already won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, is trying to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978.

For more on the Belmont Stakes, please be sure to visit our blog And Down The Stretch They Come along with SB Nation New York.

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Belmont Stakes 2012: Who Will Challenge I'll Have Another?

Bodemeister, runner-up in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, will not challenge I’ll Have Another June 9 when the horse runs for the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes. So, who will?

Right now, it seems I’ll Have Another could have as many as 12 challengers over the 1.5-mile course at Belmont Park. From BelmontStakes.com, here is a list of horses called “likely” for the Belmont.

Optimizer, Paynter, Alpha, Atigun, Dullahan, Five Sixteen, Guyana Star Dweej, Mark Valeski, Rousing Sermon, Stealcase, Street Life, and Union Rags.

BloodHorse.com expects Union Rags, Dullahan and Mark Valeski to be the primary challengers to I’ll Have Another in his bid for the first Triple Crown since Affirmed won it in 1978.

Union Rags placed seventh in the Kentucky Derby, but skipped the Preakness.

Dullahan placed third in the Kentucky Derby, just 13/4 lengths back. He also skipped the Preakness.

Mark Valeski has not run in either of the first two legs of the Triple Crown. He won the Grade II Peter Pan Stakes May 12 at Belmont Park.

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