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I was about to post a piece trying to find a way around I’ll Have Another in the Belmont, when I learned that IHO was going to be scratched. Now, we don’t have any choice. I was going to suggest that despite how good IHA looks on paper, and how good he’s looked in the mornings, history was likely to rear its head, and yet again deprive us of a Triple Crown winner.
History rears its head the way history wants.
I’ll Have Another is out of the Belmont, and now my 5-1 second choice (Dullahan) is An 8-5 favorite. Even the underperforming third choice (Union Rags) was looking good at a tempting 6-1. But now both of those runners’ odds have been greatly deflated, and we’re back to looking around, either for a nice price or for someone to fill out a vertical wager.
If Union Rags can get a clean trip under John Velazquez, he’s got a good chance to live up to his previous promise. He’s had to come from behind his last few races, but I think he’ll be stalking off the pace in the Belmont, a strategy that will keep him within striking distance.
I have been a fan of Dullahan’s since last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He proved that he could handle dirt with his strong finish in the Kentucky Derby. Both Union Rags and Dullahan had difficulties in the Derby, and both are well-rested after skipping the Preakness. Dullahan has been firing bullets in the mornings. A good case can be made for either to win the Belmont.
Paynter is Bob Baffert’s new shooter with Bodemeister on the sidelines. At one point, Baffert had Paynter ranked higher in his barn than the brilliant Derby and Preakness runnerup. I have a feeling Paynter will take some money, but the jump to a mile and a half, combined with his reported poor recent morning workouts, leads me to leave him out of the top two slots in my vertical wagers.
So, who is worth leaving in your tris and supers?
I am intrigued by the longest shot on the board: Ravelo’s Boy. At first glance, and at his odds of 30-1, it looks like he doesn’t belong in this race. He was out of the money in his last three starts, and he hasn’t run in almost three months. Still, he’s been working fast and steady in the mornings at Calder Race Coarse, and it’s easy to be misled comparing his Beyer figures to competitors who have been running recently. A lot can change in three months with three year olds. Also, his dosage index fits the distance of the Belmont. Fitness and breeding mean a lot in this race, and at 30-1, he’s worth using.
Another possibility to come in the money is Chad Brown’s Street Life. A grandson (on his mother’s side) of Birdstone, he’s another who’s got the breeding and fitness to pick up a slice.
I also feel we haven’t yet seen the best of Antigun. He’s a confirmed closer, but his races are better than looked, and he may well appreciate the additional ground.
Is it too late for Optimizer? After his poor finishes in both the Derby and Preakness, it seems silly to still believe in him, yet I’m still not sure we’ve seen the best from this English Channel colt. D.Wayne Lukas may have just been priming the pump for this late runner to thrive at a mile and a half.
Picks in order of preference:
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