At this point it looks like there are 10 horses lining up this Saturday at Belmont Park trying to stop I’ll Have Another (above photo), Team O’Neill and Mario “the kid” Gutierrez from making history.
The stage is being set as the media biased crowd has put not only Team O’Neill through the ringer but also I’ll Have Another. Neither horse nor his connections seem to be phased in chasing that elusive Triple Crown.
I believe if he runs his race I’ll Have Another will be one tough colt to beat, especially if the weather is fine. His only bad outing came on the slop last year in the Hopeful at Saratoga.
So how will the Belmont Stakes play out on a fast track?
Unstoppable U: The way I see it, the speedy 3-year-old will take it to them early. Trained by Ken McPeek this colt has won both of his starts in impressive style, one in the slop at 6 furlongs and the other on a fast track going a flat mile. Both were going away wire-to-wire decisions.
Speed is a dangerous commodity here at Belmont going this 1½-mile distance and this guy could get brave at a big price for a piece of the pie. However, I really didn’t care for his last work.
Paynter: Bob Baffert who never holds a grudge (ask Martin Garcia and Garrett Gomez) will try and be the spoiler with this colt. This is another owned by Zayat Stables, lightly raced and right on the tail of Unstoppable U.
This horse finished fourth behind I’ll Have Another in the Santa Anita Derby losing by 3¾ lengths after bobbling at the start and a wide trip. There’s a ton of raw ability with star potential and is a must use in the exotics. The one thing you can bet on is I never hold a grudge. Baffert will have him cranked up for a top effort.
Now the pace has been set and I don’t believe many others in here have a shot at winning.
Atigun lost by more than 11 lengths to Bodemeister in the Arkansas Derby.
Five Sixteen has just the maiden breaker by a head on the inner dirt course at Aqueduct and the only thing he has going for him is Rosie.
Guyana Star Dweej has no shot with a name like that and is not good enough with these guys.
Optimizer is the D. Wayne Lukas entry, but this horse has seen better days. He was trounced by Bodemeister and I’ll Have Another in his last three starts losing by a total of 48 lengths.
Revelo’s Boy was fifth in the Tampa Bay Derby in his last start and will love to finish fifth in the Belmont.
Now let’s take a quick look at the main threats other than the two speedsters I talked about earlier.
Street Life has one good thing going for him and that’s trainer Chad Brown, a Bobby Frankel disciple who usually runs his horses where they belong. This colt looks over his head, but did improve big time in the Peter Pan here on May 12.
This horse made a big five-wide run to pick up the show dough, just missing the place money. He will be making a late run if the track is fast and is a must use in the exotics.
Union Rags has been a big disappointment as the excuses keep piling up. I just do not like backing a horse that has excuses in his last two races even though trainer Mike Matz is making the jockey switch from Leparoux to J R Velazquez. I do think in this short field he will be right there, but needs a perfect trip to get this distance. He could get that with JR in the irons.
Dullahan had a great workout on Sunday going 4 furlongs in 58.97, which was a statement that he is ready to roll. Jockey Javier Castellano takes over the mount in place of Kent Desormeaux. He passed on the Preakness after what looked to be a great race in the Derby. The result was very similar to the race run by Went The Day Well who came back in the Preakness finishing next to last as the 5-1 third choice, so was it the pace that day?
The rest may have set Dullahan up for his best, but as I look deep into the past performances I just can’t overlook those losses. The only real good horse he beat was the suspect Hansen in the Blue Grass on the synthetic surface. Plus, his only two wins have come at Keeneland.
At the wire
I’ll Have Another is the best horse in the race and we will probably get a fair price on him with a ton of money going on Dullahan. Union Rags gets some play.
I will probably key I’ll Have Another first in 75% of my tickets and use him second in the rest with Paynter, who just may get the jump on them all turning for home. I love his last work going 7 furlongs in 1:25, finishing the mile in 1:38. He is ready for a big effort.
I will use Dullahan and Union Rags, tossing in Unstoppable U in the third and fourth spots just in case.
Saber’s fab 5
Win: I’ll Have Another
As they sang it on Broadway it will be I’ll Have Another because “If the weather is fine can do can do.”
Don’t forget the seminar at Jerry’s Nugget this Saturday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., and the carving station will be open. I will be there along with honest Lou D’Amico from the Bad Beat show.