2012 Belmont Stakes Contenders

Belmont Park Race Track Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) winner I’ll Have Another heads the field for the $1 million Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 9 at Belmont Park as he seeks to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

The Doug O’Neill trainee is going to get a stern test as he looks to become just the 12th horse in history to win the Triple Crown.

While his arch rival Bodemeister is skipping the Belmont, trainer bob Baffert is likely sending the promising Paynter, who is coming off a very impressive looking win against allowance foes after a runner up finish in the Derby Trial (G3).

The Kentucky Derby third place finisher Dullahan is back, and Union Rags, who was sent off as the second betting choice in the Derby only to check in in seventh after a troubled trip will look to turn the tables on the Derby and Preakness champ.

Here is an early look at the Belmont Stakes contenders:

Alpha
Pedigree: Bernardini – Munnaya, by Nijinky II
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughin
Last Race: 12th in Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs
Betting Odds: +2500
Comment: Beaten just a neck in the Wood Memorial (G1) to Gemologist, the colt was off a beat slow and never a threat on Derby Day, checking in 12th. The colt worked on Preakness Day morning and assistant trainer Art Magnunson said “We’re not deciding anything yet, we’re just going to watch things and let the horse tell us.”

Atigun
Pedigree: Istan- Rimini Road, by Dynaformer
Trainer: Ken McPeek
Last Race: Won second level optional claiming race at Churchill Downs
Betting Odds: +4500
Comment: The colt was not much of a threat in the Rebel (G2) and Arkansas Derby (G1), and a drop back into the allowance ranks last out at Churchill Downs got him back to the winners circle. The colt has a long winded pedigree but in three tries in graded stakes company the best he has finished was fifth.

Dullahan
Pedigree: Even the Score – Mining My Own, by Smart Strike
Trainer: Dale Romans
Last Race: Third in Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs
Betting Odds: +450
Comment: The Blue Grass (G1) winner did not have the best of trips in the Kentucky Derby, but once clear in the stretch came with a wide move and was picking up ground late in a third place finish. He was only a neck behind Bodemeister and beaten 1 ¾ lengths by I’ll Have Another.

Five Sixteen
Pedigree: Invasor – Third Street, by Salt Lake
Trainer: Dominick Schettino
Last Race: Fourth in a first level allowance race at Aqueduct
Betting Odds: +6000
Comment: A local hope trained by New York based Dominic Schettino, the gelding only had s a maiden win to his credit and that came in his first career start. He acted up in the gate last out against first level allowance foes and checked in fourth after a wide trip.

Guyana Star Dweej
Pedigree: Eddington – Special Feeling, by Pine Bluff
Trainer: Doodnauth Shimangal
Last Race: Second in a first level allowance optional claiming race at Belmont Park
Betting Odds: +6000
Comment: The connections were considering the Preakness, but elected to skip Baltimore and head to the Big Apple with this colt. He ran for a $25,000 claiming tag I his second career start and broke his maiden in eighth career start. He came back with a runner up finish behind another Belmont Stakes contender in Unstoppable U against first level allowance optional claimers last out.

I’ll Have Another
Pedigree: Flower Alley – Arch’s Gal Edith, by Arch
Trainer: Doug O’Neill
Last Race: Won Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico
Betting Odds: +220
Comment: The colt is perfect in four starts this year and ran down Bodemeister despite that colt being able to set slower fractions in the Preakness. The colt is seeking to end a 34 year drought and become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. He earned a career top 109 Beyer Speed Figure in his Preakness victory.

Mark Valeski
Pedigree: Proud Citizen – Pacho’s Dream Girl, Fortunate Prospect
Trainer: Larry Jones
Last Race: Won Peter Pan (G2) at Belmont Park
Betting Odds: +1200
Comment: Trainer Larry Jones said that the colt is “doubtful” for the Belmont Stakes. The Peter Pan (G2) winner came out of his last start a bit tired according to his trainer, and may wait for the Dwyer (G2) on June 30.

Optimizer
Pedigree: English channel – Indy Pick, by A.P. Indy
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas
Last Race: Sixth in Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico
Betting Odds: +5000
Comment: Despite a 11th place finish in the Derby and a 8th in the Preakness, hall of fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas is back to run this colt again in the Belmont. Lukas had lost 116 straight races in graded stakes company before his Hamazing Destiny won the Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3) on the Preakness Day undercard.

Paynter
Pedigree: Awesome Again – Tizso, by Cee’s Tizzy
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Last Race: Won allowance race at PImlico
Betting Odds: +400
Comment: Bob Baffert is going to keep Bodemeister in the barn, but the talented Paynter looks like a player. The colt has just four starts under his belt winning two and checking in fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and second in the Derby Trial (G3). Baffert has come up just short of winning the Triple three times, with Silver Charm, Real Quiet and War Emblem. He did win the 2001 Belmont with Point Given.

Rousing Sermon
Pedigree: Lucky Pulpit – Rousing Again, by Awesome Again
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Last Race: Eighth in Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs
Betting Odds: +3000
Comment: The colt has not been able run back to his neck loss in the CashCall Futurity (G1) as a juvenile, no match for I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister in a couple of Derby preps this spring. He shipped to Fair Grounds for the Louisiana Derby where he ran a decent third. He was sent off at 41-1 in the Kentucky Derby had did not have the best of trips in an eighth place finish.

Stealcase
Pedigree: Lawyer Ron- Steal the Show, by Cat Thief
Trainer: Mark Casse
Last Race: Third in the Derby Trail (G3) at Churchill Downs
Betting Odds: +4500
Comment: The colt ounce back from a sixth in the Gotham (G3) and a fifth in the Spiral (G3) with a decent third in the Derby Trial (G3) in his last start a week before the Derby. He was only beaten a neck by the Baffert trained Paynter, who came back with an impressive looking win in the allowance ranks in his next start.

Street Life
Pedigree: Street Sense – Stone Hope, by Grindstone
Trainer: Chad Brown
Last Race: Third in Peter Pan (G2) at Belmont Park
Betting Odds: +2000
Comment: The colt was far back early and made up some good ground late in a third place finish in the Peter Pan (G2) last out. The colt was sixth in the Wood Memorial (G1) two back in his graded stakes debut. The colt is in good hands with former Bobby Frankel assistant Chad Brown. The colt has some pedigree, by 2007 Derby winner Street Sense out of a Grindstone mare. Grindstone won the Kentucky Derby in 1996.

Union Rags
Pedigree: Dixie Union – Tempo, by Gone West
Trainer: Michael Matz
Last Race: Seventh in Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs
Betting Odds: +350
Comment: Sent off as the second choice in the Run for the Roses, the colt was off a beat slow and found himself at the back of the pack in the early going. Jockey Julien Leparoux could not find running room until they turned for home and the colt picked up it nicely to finish seventh. It looks as if Matz may look for a new jockey as the colt has not had much luck trip wise in his last two outings.

Unstoppable U
Pedigree: Exchange Rate – Naseem, by Point Given
Trainer: Ken McPeek
Last Race: Won first level allowance optional claiming race at Belmont Park
Betting Odds: +500
Comment: The colt is the most lightly raced runner in the field with just two career starts. The colt broke his maiden in his debut, then came back with a good looking first level optional claiming win at Belmont Park going a one turn mile. The colt is out of a Point Given mare. Point Given won both the Preakness and Belmont in 2001.

Michael Dempsey’s Belmont Stakes Day Report
Michael’s Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire Belmont Stakes Day card.

The third jewel of the Triple Crown features an outstanding day of horse betting. The supporting stakes include the $500,000 Manhattan Handicap (G1), $200,000 Brooklyn Handicap (G2), and the $150,000 Jaipur.

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