Belmont Stakes Contenders Rundown
The Belmont Stakes figures to be a huge event this year with I’ll Have Another bidding to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Given his skill set and the 1 ½ length of this race he may have the best chance of any Belmont Stakes contenders in years.
There have been 30 horses that came to the Belmont Stakes in search of eternal glory – almost all of them were bet like they’d already achieved it. The last winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness not to be favored in the Belmont Stakes was Assault in 1946… and he wound up winning the Triple Crown. Still, as the chart reflects, a $2 win bet on all of the Triple Crown hopefuls in the Belmont has produced an ROI of -41.5 percent, including a -78.42% ROI over the past 50 years.
Here’s the rundown of the 2012 Belmont Stakes contenders by post position:
Post Position 1 – STREET LIFE: Seems to be the "wise guy" horse underneath as the alternative to the alternatives. A few people I know are picking him to win, and 12-to-1 isn’t a terrible price, but his running style works against him as does the fact that he needs to get faster to win while others get slower.
Post Position 2 – UNSTOPPABLE U: Worth noting because trainer Kenny McPeek says this one will be on or near the lead, but stretching out to 1 ½ miles for his stakes debut against a good group is what will stop him.
Post Position 3 – UNION RAGS: Looked like the best of his generation when winning the Champagne and finishing a troubled second to eventual champion Hansen in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but did not progress as a three-year-old. A move forward in the Belmont get him in the number and a move forward plus others regressing gets him in the winner’s circle, but I’m not sure 1 ½ miles is his wheelhouse, though jockey John Velazquez has more wins than any other rider this century going 1 ½ miles on the Belmont main track.
Post Position 4 – ATIGUN: Of all the longshots (horses outside the top five choices), this one seems to be getting the most attention. His three wins have been impressive, but they’ve come while running through conditions, and he hasn’t handled the jump to stakes company very well. Leparoux winning would make a good story given the drama surrounding his rides on Union Rags in the Florida & Kentucky Derbys, and McPeek knows how to spring an upset when spoiling a Triple Crown bid, but this one would be a legitimate surprise.
Post Position 5 – DULLAHAN: If not the most likely winner at least the most likely value. I’ll Have Another’s win price virtually assures that Dullahan will be a fair price in the win pool. Even if you think Dullahan only wins this 25% of the time, 4-to-1 is a great bet. He is the only horse in the field I think can win even if I’ll Have Another runs his "A" race, and it’s more likely that Dullahan runs his best than I’ll Have Another does, so he’s the on-top selection.
Post Position 6 – RAVELO’S BOY: The form coming out of the Tampa Bay Downs races this year has been abominable, and a three-month layoff stretching out to 1 ½ miles in the Belmont from a fifth-place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby isn’t ideal.
Post Position 7 – FIVE SIXTEEN: Appears to be overmatched at all points of call no matter how you draw up the race.
Post Position 8 – GUYANA STAR DWEEJ: The maiden win was actually kind of snappy and hints at talent enough to maybe do something in this race at a big price. The bad news is that was his eighth career start, and the follow-up effort in an entry-level allowance race was a big step back. Still, as the only entrant sporting the Mr. P.-Northern Dancer cross he merits some respect in the sense that I’d use him before Unstoppable U or Five Sixteen.
Post Position 9 – PAYNTER: This is a bit dramatic, but he’s sort of the Trinniberg of this bunch. Clearly very fast, but just not sure why this race for him right now. Like Atigun, his two wins have been impressive but have come while running through his conditions. I’ll Have Another already beat him easily in the Santa Anita Derby, and the Derby Trial was good, but the winner was clearly best. Like Street Life, the morning line price (8-to-1) is OK, and I like Street Life or Paynter better at their morning lines than I do Union Rags, but just seems to have too much against him to best this group.
Post Position 10 – OPTIMIZER: I like him for the reasons other people like Street Life, but with Optimizer you’re getting twice the price. He’s not a big win threat given his relative slowness to the top contenders and his running style, but I do think he improves on the stretch out and that’s good enough to land in the tri at a big price.
Post Position 11 – I’LL HAVE ANOTHER: The most likely winner, but unless you think he wins this race more than 56% of the time then he’s a bad bet to win. How to make money, then? I’ll single him in multi-race wagers not expecting him to be 4-to-5 in exotic pools and play Dullahan to win as well use those two in exotic wagers with Optimizer.
Post Position 12 – MY ADONIS: I actually picked this horse to win the Wood Memorial, and he showed nothing in that race and the horses ahead of him have showed very little as well save for Street Life’s third-place finish in the Peter Pan. He’s from the same connections as Ruler On Ice, and I could actually see My Adonis getting a similar trip minus actually being in front at the end, but hanging on for 3rd or 4th isn’t impossible.
Which of the Belmont Stakes contenders will be this years champion? Find out June 9th, 2012 and place your online wagers right here with TwinSpires. Enjoy the race!
Contenders information provided by The Director of Marketing for Bloodstock Research
Information Services (BRIS) and a lifelong Thoroughbred racing
enthusiast and astute handicapper, Ed DeRosa. Follow Ed on Twitter here