Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) winner I’ll Have Another seems to be no worse for wear after the first two jewels of the Triple Crown and appears ready to fire a third bullet in the $1 million Belmont Stakes (G1) on Saturday.
However, there are a couple of runners lying in the weeds and waiting, a pair of runners that finished behind the Kentucky Derby winner and skipped the Preakness.
Union Rags had a tough start and less than stellar trip in the Derby, and managed to make a mild late run to finish seventh.
The Michael Matz trainee is back with a new jockey on board in New York veteran John Velazquez and looks as if he is coming into the Belmont in top shape.
Dullahan rallied to finish third in the Derby, only beaten 1 ¾ lengths, and also skipped the Preakness to wait for the Belmont.
I may find it tough to get off Union Rags, who was my top pick in the Derby. The colt put in a solid looking work at Fair Hill on Sunday, going five furlongs in :59.00, with Velazquez making the trip down from New York to work the colt.
“I’m glad Johnny [Velazquez] made the effort to come down and sit on him,” Matz said after the work. “Johnny seemed to like him and he seemed to do that easy enough.”
After winning the Fountain of Youth (G2) in his three-year-old debut, who was the beaten chalk in the Florida Derby (G1) as Take Charge Indy was able to steal it on the front, and then his start in the Derby really compromised his chances.
Some have been critical of the rides by Leparoux, and it seemed obvious that Matz was going to make a change of jockey, and Velazquez is a perfect fit.
Velazquez has won seven riding titles at Belmont Park and more than two dozen in New York in his career.
By comparison, I’ll Have Another jockey Mario Gutierrez will be riding at Belmont Park for the very first time this week.
Dullahan turned some heads on Sunday morning with a four furlong drill in 45.97 over the Belmont Park main track with new jockey Javier Castellano aboard for the work.
Castellano is replacing hall of fame rider Kent Desormeaux, who had ridden the colt in his last five starts but failed a Breathalyzer test a couple of weeks ago, leading to him losing some key mounts including aboard Dullahan.
Dullahan trainer Dale Romans was very content with the work.
“Right before the Blue Grass he went in [57 2/5]. When he works like that, he runs big. He looked like he was galloping, and then we got back to the barn he recovered quickly. He wasn’t blowing. I think he’s ready. I’m happy with my position. I wouldn’t change places with anybody in this race,” Romans said.
I will have my full card report for Belmont Stakes Day available no later than Thursday evening.
Belmont Stakes Contenders with Turf ‘n’ Sport Early Morning Line Odds
Five Sixteen 50-1
Guyana Star Dweej 50-1
I’ll Have Another 1-1
Ravelo’s Boy 40-1
Street Life 20-1
Union Rags 9-2
Unstoppable U 30-1
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 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap (G1), $500,000 Just A Game (G1), $400,000 True North Handicap (G2), and the $400,000 Woody Stephens (G2).