*Editor Note: I'll Have Another was scratched Friday and will not run in the Belmont Stakes.
It was the Disco Era, a gallon of gas cost 63 cents, we did not have cell phones, and to get our news we actually had to pick up a newspaper.
Since 1978, we have seen (and unfortunately heard) Justin Bieber, gas is more than $3 bucks a gallon, we surf the web on our smart phones, and eleven 3-year-olds have come up short in the Belmont Stakes in a Triple Crown bid.
This year we will either see the 12th Triple Crown winner in history or the 12th horse to come up short.
I’ll Have Another is going to be the heavy favorite to get the job done, but is he worth risking the bankroll at such a short price?
If we look back at the last four Belmont Stakes winners, we see nothing but longshots with winners paying $51.50, $28.00, $25.80, and $79.00.
There is nothing more exciting in horse racing than a crack at Triple Crown history but it's hardly going to get the pulse racing for bettors plunking down $2.00 to win $3.80.
So while most of us root to witness history on Saturday, there are still plenty of tickets to cash, so let’s meet the eleven contenders that are taking on the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner. Belmont Stakes odds courtesy of OddsShark.
1. Street Life (12-1): Trained by former Bobby Frankel assistant Chad Brown, the colt comes into the race off a solid third-place finish in the Peter Pan (Grade 2) over the Belmont Park main track. The colt was outrun early and was picking it up late, and certainly appears to have enough pedigree to handle the 1 ½ miles. He is by Derby winner Street Sense out of the mare Stone Hope, who only won a sprint in her career, but she is by Derby winner Grindstone.
2. Unstoppable U (30-1): This colt is one of two in the race sent out by trainer Ken McPeek. The colt is undefeated in two starts, but takes a big step up in class here. The trainer has not been happy with the way the colt has been finishing his works and even mentioned that he could end up being scratched.
3. Union Rags (6-1): The colt was sent off as the second betting choice in the Kentucky Derby. He was off a beat slow, which placed him at the rear of the pack and he did not get clear running room until late, rallying to finish seventh. His jockey, Julien Leparoux, was criticized over his last two rides aboard the colt and has been replaced by veteran New York rider John Velazquez. The colt deserves a long look on Saturday.
4. Atigun (30-1): This is the second of the two runners that McPeek sends out, and the colt is coming into the race off a win against second-level, optional-claiming company. The colt has tried graded stakes company three times in his career, with the best finish a fifth in the Arkansas Derby. He was beaten by 11 ¼ lengths by Bodemeister, who went on to finish second in the Derby and Preakness.
5. Dullahan (5-1): This guy is a two-time Grade 1 winner, but both of those victories came over polytrack. The colt did put in a solid effort in the Derby. He broke inward and bumped Union Rags, was caught in tight quarters heading into the first turn, and came with a seven-wide run into the stretch and finished up well, beaten just 1 ¾ lengths. The colt gets a new jockey in Javier Castellano and blistered a four-furlong work on June 3. This guy is a half-brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird. His main knock is the fact that he has not won on conventional dirt, but he gives every indication he will be able to handle 1 ½ miles.
6. Ravelo’s Boy (50-1): This colt ships up from Florida and will be making his first start off a three-month layoff. His last outing came in the Tampa Bay Derby where he checked in fifth. That race has been a productive prep for the Run for the Roses in previous years, but came up weak this year. It took him six tries to pass his first allowance condition and, coming off the layoff, this would be a huge upset if he is in the mix.
7. Five Sixteen (50-1): The gelding has won just one of his six starts, taking five outings before he earned his diploma. He acted up in the gate last out and checked in fourth against first-level allowance foes in his most recent outing. The gelding does have a long-winded pedigree, by Invasor out of a Salt Lake mare that also produced stakes winner Doc’s Doll. But he would really need to move forward to get the job done in this spot.
8. Guyana Star Dweej (50-1): It took this colt eight tries to break his maiden, finally getting the job done at Aqueduct going a one-turn mile. He finished 6 ¼ lengths behind Unstoppable U in a first-level allowance race in his most recent start. The connections were considering the Preakness for him, but skipped going to Baltimore. After losing his mount on Dullahan, Hall of Fame trainer Kent Desormeaux lands on this colt.
9. Paynter (8-1): Trainer Bob Baffert has Derby and Preakness runner-up Bodemeister on the sidelines, but comes in here with the very intriguing Paynter. The colt only has four starts under his belt, with his stakes tries a fourth in the Santa Anita Derby and a second in the Derby Trial (Grade 3). He was only beaten 3 ¾ lengths by I’ll Have Another in the Santa Anita Derby and don’t forget that was just his second career outing. The colt earned a solid speed figure beating allowance foes in his last start and is going to be an early-pace factor in this race. The colt has more upside than anyone in the field and the 8-1 morning line looks fair. I have a hunch this guy is going to get bet down a few points.
10. Optimizer (20-1): Other than I’ll Have Another, this colt is the only other runner that competed in the first two jewels of the Triple Crown, finishing 11th in the Derby and making a mild late run to finish sixth in the Preakness. He is trained by D. Wayne Lukas, who has won 13 Triple Crown races, tied for the most in history with Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons. Lukas was hospitalized this week when a horse kicked him in the head, requiring stiches on his forehead.
12. My Adonis (20-1): A late addition to the party, his connections did not commit to running until Tuesday. The colt mixed it up early this year in a couple of Derby preps, finishing third in the Holy Bull and second in the Gotham. He was a disappointing seventh in the Wood Memorial, knocking him off the Derby Trail. He came back with a decent effort in the Canonero at Pimlico. The winner of that race was Pretension, who came back to finish 11th in the Preakness. His connections did win this race last year, Ruler On Ice returning $51.50.
The festivities kick off with first race post time of 11:35 ET. There are four other graded stakes on the afternoon card: The $400,000 True North (Grade 2), $500,000 Longines Just a Game (Grade 1), $400,000 Woody Stephens (Grade 2), and the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap (Grade 1).
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