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Belmont Stakes analysis

Dullahan waits to be bathed after his work

Dullahan waits to be bathed after his work out. (June 7, 2012) Credit: J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

POST 1 STREET LIFE

Trainer: Chad Brown

Jockey: Jose Lezcano

Last three: 3-6-1

Odds: 12-1

Chad Brown learned from a master, the late, great Bobby Frankel, so always give his horses a close look. This colt has plenty of upside and probably is better than he looks on paper. Made up a lot of ground when third in the Peter Pan, and he's training solidly. His connections are keeping a low profile, but the word is they think he'll run well. He could be in the top three or four if some of the marquee names struggle.

POST 2 UNSTOPPABLE U

Trainer: Ken McPeek

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Last two: 1-1

Odds: 30-1

Promising colt won his only two starts and has a bit of early speed, but that's where the positives end. He's never been past a mile or around two turns, so 1½ miles would seem endless. McPeek disliked his last two works and said Sunday he was "only 50-50" to make the race. It probably would be better if he didn't.

POST 3 UNION RAGS

Trainer: Michael Matz

Jockey: John Velazquez

Last three: 7-3-1

Odds: 6-1

The workout star of Derby week was virtually eliminated at the start and finished seventh. A second consecutive bad trip under Julien Leparoux compelled Matz to switch to 2007 Belmont winner John Velazquez, who knows "Big Sandy'' like his back yard. He loved his 5-furlong, 59-second workout Sunday at Fair Hill, and count on position-conscious Johnny V. to keep this long-striding colt out of trouble. They look like the main danger to I'll Have Another, and it will be no shock if they spoil the party.

POST 4 ATIGUN

Trainer: Ken McPeek

Jockey: Julien Leparoux

Last three: 1-5-11

Odds: 30-1

He's 0-for-3 in graded stakes (fifth, 11th, fifth, beaten a combined 26½ lengths) and lacks speed, so how could you make a case for him as a contender? He was nowhere the two times he faced top-class runners (Bodemeister, Gemologist), and that won't change tomorrow.

POST 5 DULLAHAN

Trainer: Dale Romans

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Last three: 3-1-2

Odds: 5-1

He rallied powerfully for third, only 1¾ lengths behind I'll Have Another in the Derby, but he was closest at the finish and never a threat to win. Worked spectacularly (4 furlongs in 45.97) Sunday at Belmont, and Romans is a very sharp big-race trainer. Still, this deep closer is only 3-for-9, including 0-for-4 on conventional dirt. Don't leave him out of the underneath spots in the exotics, but I think he'll be overbet to win.

POST 6 RAVELO'S BOY

Trainer: Manny Azpurua

Jockey: Alex Solis

Last three: 5-4-5

Odds: 50-1

There's no logical reason to put a 2-for-13 colt in the Belmont, especially off a three-month layoff. He's 0-for-3 in stakes, beaten a total of 20¾ lengths, and untested beyond 1 1/16 miles. Just hope he doesn't get in the way of the horses with a chance to win.

POST 7 FIVE SIXTEEN

Trainer: Dominick Schettino

Jockey: Rosie Napravnik

Last three: 4-1-3

Odds: 50-1

Napravnik is a rising star and will be only the second woman to ride "The Test of the Champion.'' Someday Rosie may join Hall of Famer Julie Krone (Colonial Affair, 1993) as the only women to win it, but it won't be on this 1-for-6 gelding. He needed five starts to break his maiden and belongs in a preliminary allowance, not the Triple Crown finale.

POST 8 GUYANA STAR DWEEJ

Trainer: Doodnauth Shivmangal

Jockey: Kent Desormeaux

Last three: 2-1-2

Odds: 50-1

He's 1-for-9 and took eight starts to finally win. He's specialized in finishing second (five times) against far inferior competition to what he'll be taking on. Like almost everyone else, I won't be back-wheeling him in the exacta.

POST 9 PAYNTER

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Jockey: Mike Smith

Last three: 1-2-4

Odds: 8-1

Originally, Baffert considered this colt better than Bodemeister, and he wasted no time throwing Paynter into the deep end. In his second career start, he lost by only 3¾ lengths to I'll Have Another when fourth in the Santa Anita Derby. Early speed is so dangerous in the Belmont, and Smith may enjoy a leisurely lead for a long way. When that happens, long shots often keep going and win. Remember 18-1 Commendable (2000) and 38-1 Da' Tara (2008)? Take this gifted overlay seriously.

POST 10 OPTIMIZER

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

Jockey: Corey Nakatani

Last three: 6-11-9

Odds: 20-1

Since winning his career debut on turf at Saratoga he's lost 10 in a row, including his last three by a total of 48 lengths. Lukas has talked him up as his Belmont horse since last summer, and here he is. Success doesn't happen if you don't show up, but you need resources to get the job done. If the Belmont were on grass, he'd have a good chance. He's in way over his head.

POST 11 I'LL HAVE ANOTHER

Trainer: Doug O'Neill

Jockey: Mario Gutierrez

Last three: 1-1-1

Odds: 4-5

For the first time in his eight-race career, he'll be the betting favorite, besides being the overwhelming sentimental choice. His odds will be so short that risk will exceed reward, unless you're after an uncashed souvenir of the 12th Triple Crown winner. He's been galloping well, and his tactical speed, acceleration, class, pedigree and connections give him a great chance to end the 34-year drought. He's had four perfect trips, and can the cool, savvy Gutierrez make it five in a row? Smarty Jones (2004) and Big Brown (2008) looked like sure things, and since 1979, something bad always has happened to horses going for the sweep. Maybe this time it won't.

POST 12 MY ADONIS

Trainer: Kelly Breen

Jockey: Ramon Dominguez

Last three: 3-7-2

Odds: 20-1

He's 0-for-5 since winning a mile stakes on Delta Downs' bull ring last October. Best performance this year was a second to Hansen, last year's champion 2-year-old colt, in the Gotham. Was seventh in the Wood, his only start past 1 1/16 miles, but pedigree (by Pleasantly Perfect) says he may get better going longer. He might slip into the trifecta or superfecta if he maxes out. His connections won last year's Belmont Stakes with Ruler On Ice.

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