2012 Belmont Stakes-Betting Preview
The 2012 Triple Crown racing season comes to a close this Saturday, June 9 with the 144rd running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. For the first time since 2008 there is a tremendous buzz in the air for this race as I’ll Have Another will make his bid to become just the 12th Triple Crown Champion in the long and illustrious history of thoroughbred horse racing.
This grade I stakes race is contested on a dirt track over a distance 1 ½ miles making it the longest and most grueling test of the three Triple Crown races. Post time this Saturday is set for 6:35 p.m. (ET) and the race will be broadcast nationally on NBC.
The following is a brief look at some of the top contenders for Saturday‘s race along with their current odds to win.
I’ll Have Another 4/5
This three-year old chestnut colt came into the Triple Crown racing season with little fanfare despite posting impressive victories in the grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita in his 2012 debut followed by a stunning victory in the grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 7.
Some of this was due to the fact he is trained by Doug O’Neill and ridden by Mario Gutierrez, who are hardly considered synonymous with Triple Crown racing. None the less, after two stirring come-from-behind victories in the Kentucky Derby at 15/1 odds and the Preakness as the favorite, I’ll Have Another is the talk of the town and the prohibitive odds-on-favorite to do what has not been done since Affirmed completed the Triple Crown sweep in 1978.
Dale Roman’s entry into the Belmont Stakes made a serious run at winning this year’s Kentucky Derby but came-up short with a third-place finish, just a neck behind second-place Bodemeister. This followed a victory in the grade I Blue Grass Stakes where he rallied from 11th place to beat Hanson by 1 ¼ lengths. He came into the Kentucky Derby as one of the morning line favorites at 8/1 but slipped to 12/1 at post time.
Dullahan had Kent Desormeaux aboard for the Derby but is expected to be ridden by his normal jockey Javier Castellano this Saturday in the Belmont. The three-year old colt first came on the scene with a fourth-place finish in last season’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and kicked-off his 2012 campaign with a second-place finish in the grade II Palm Beach Stakes on March 11. He was held out of the Preakness to train for this race.
Union Rags 6/1
Throughout the duration of the Triple Crown prep race season, this colt was also mentioned as one of the early favorites to win the Kentucky Derby. Despite a third-place finish in the grade I Florida Derby in his final prep race, he held onto that tag and went off as the 5/1 second-favorite at Churchill. A poor start led to a disappointing seventh-place finish in the Derby so trainer Michael Matz decided to hold him out of last month’s Preakness Stakes to better prepare for the longer and more demanding Belmont Stakes.
Trainer Bob Baffert decided he had enough of watching his prized thoroughbred Bodemeister getting passed by I’ll Have Another down the stretch in the first two Triple Crown races, so he is going with Paynter as his entry in this final leg. Ridden by Mike Smith, this colt did not run in either of the first two Triple Crown races and his best finish in a major stakes race was fourth-place in the Santa Anita Derby. He is coming off a victory in an Allowance race at Pimlico Racetrack that was part of the same racing card as the Preakness, which is the primary reason that Baffert has him in this race.