Since I Won’t Have Another, the Belmont opens up to any number of possibilities. Not necessarily to the possibility of Optimizer winning, but lots of other possibilities.
Herewith, some thoughts on what the contenders need to do to get the money.
- Street Life will need to be in the picture in the first half-mile. His last couple, he’s run on nicely but too late — a tactic that people often think will translate to Belmont gold. But the reverse is true; in the Belmont, deep closers who don’t quite get there, well, they don’t quite get there. If you have to point to the right, outside the TV screen, when someone asks where Street Life is early, he won’t be winning.
- Unstoppable U and Atigun, the uncoupled Kenny McPeek runners, will need to catch some of his Sarava magic. Atigun, with three wins from nine starts, is the more accomplished; Unstoppable U has the higher upside. Look for UU to try to take them all the way on the front end.
- Union Rags has to hope I’m wrong about him (and I may be), because I’ll be betting against him with both hands. I guess, technically, I mean that he’ll have to avoid the trouble he’s so adept at finding and be better than we’ve seen from him so far as a three year-old.
- Dullahan, like Street Life, will likely need to be more involved early, but, unlike that one, he’s shown at least intermittently the ability to do so.
- Ravelo’s Boy will need to hope that this race magically turns into an N2X before the gates open.
- Five Sixteen richly deserves the same kind of comment I gave Ravelo’s Boy, but for some reason, I suspect this son of the terrific (and underrated) Invasor will outrun his odds today.
- Guyana Star Dweej will need a new name.
- Paynter will have to stretch out, but that’s hardly out of the realm for a son of Awesome Again out of a Ceei’s Tizzy mare. He thrashed a (minor) stakes quality allowance field Preakness weekend and looks to be on the improve.
- Optimizer will need to, well, probably find easier company. Maybe he can join Ravelo’s Boy in that allowance race.
- My Adonis will need to return to his Delta Downs form. Finding his Delta Downs foes wouldn’t hurt, either.
So if you’re looking for ridiculous, no-hope bombers to play — and they do seem to win this race about every other year — I find myself looking at Unstoppable U and Five Sixteen. If not, look for Dullahan or Paynter to get the money. But be warned: Street Life has said, on Twitter, that he intends to be closer to the early pace today.
On another note, for last-minute assistance, check out our friends at Horse Racing Nation’s Belmont Stakes 2012 info!