The 2012 Triple Crown begins with the 138th Kentucky Derby. The Running of the Roses will be followed by the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, as the quest for the first Triple Crown in 34 years begins.
The field for this year's Kentucky Derby is unbelievably talented, and that is a sign for how we can expect the Preakness and Belmont Stakes to be as well.
The US Triple Crown of horse-racing has not been held since 1978, when Affirmed took the prestigious title.
The Triple Crown seems like a more distant idea with every passing year, but will 2012 be the year the drought ends? Read on to find out.
Bodemeister is on top of most power rankings, but I'm not sold just yet.
He crushed his competition at the Arkansas Derby, winning by an incredible nine lengths, but that came against a field with only two other Kentucky Derby contestants: Sabercat and Optimizer.
Neither of these two are in the top half of my power rankings, and neither will be anywhere near the front of the pack tomorrow.
Bodemeister is going to have to run against much better horses, including Gemologist, Union Rags, I'll Have Another, and a half dozen other horses with a chance to win.
While I think he will finish in the first pack of horses, he isn't going to win, like so many people expect.
I'll Have Another has had his career based on a sixth-place finish at the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga on a sloppy track as a two-year-old. However, that will change this year.
His image has been completely based on his race at Saratoga, but during this year's Triple Crown he will find a new one.
I'll Have Another is a very consistent and talented horse. He is going to do well over the Triple crown because of his top finishes.
After a hard-fought win at the Santa Anita Derby, I'll Have Another is becoming a trendy upset pick. This is not without good reason, and he is going to do very well at all three races.
With a few top finishes, there is going to be a new image for him. Whether that image is falling just short or surprising the world, that is up to the media as a whole.
Alpha is one of the fastest horses in the field, and his stamina is not a major problem. He has all the makings of a future Triple Crown winner, but there is one problem: his starts.
Alpha has had an unbelievable stretch of poor starts, and we're beginning to think that this isn't a coincidence, but more of an identity.
He just can't seem to get out of the gate fast enough, which is why he has not been as successful as he could be.
I see three more bad starts during the 2012 Triple Crown for Alpha, which is why he won't be making any headlines except for disappointing fans this year.
El Padrino has seen his stock drop in recent weeks, and with good reason. He is going to struggle throughout the Triple Crown because of trainer Todd Pletcher.
Pletcher is a great trainer, don't get me wrong, but because he is also training Gemologist, who is a serious contender for the Triple Crown, he will put all of his eggs into one basket: Gemologist's.
El Padrino is going to struggle without Pletcher focusing on him, which will lead to three disappointing finishes for him.
Dullahan is the best closer in the field for the Kentucky Derby. Period.
He is the best closer in horse-racing. Period.
Dullahan is going to show us what it means to be a great closer during the 2012 Triple Crown. While he isn't going to be close enough to actually win, you can expect Dullahan to make a great run to come close to winning at one race.
When the races come down the stretch, keep an eye on Dullahan, as he closes the gap better than any other horse in the world.
With such a talented field in this year's Triple Crown, we are going to see an incredibly close finish. One that we can't tell just with our eyes.
We will see at least one photo-finish during the 2012 Triple Crown. There are eight horses with a chance to win any event, and they will form a pack that finishes well out in front of the others.
This pack will end with a few horses fighting for first, and we will need to go to the tapes to see who won.
Union Rags is among the favorites for the Kentucky Derby, shortly behind Bodemeister. However, it will be him in the Victory Circle on Saturday.
He is an ultra-consistent horse who always finishes near first. He has dropped in power rankings but is still the best in the field and will win the Kentucky Derby.
A poor showing at the Florida Derby because of a bad ride from Julien Leparoux and bad luck hurt him. His finish was much worse than expected, finishing third.
However, he is still going to win the race, returning to his elite form.
I don't believe the significance of his Florida Derby showing to be minuscule at best, although there are certainly horse-racing fans who will disagree. One bad race means nothing, especially since a great part of it was Leparoux's fault, and the jockey is the easier part to improve.
I see Union Rags winning the 138th Running of the Roses.
Before I reveal my predictions for the winners of the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, I will tell you that no one will win the Triple Crown this year.
With such a talented field, including about eight horses with a chance to win, no one horse can win these three races.
Now for the next two winners.
Gemologist is a great option to win any race he is part of, and he is going to win the Preakness Stakes.
Following a great win at Wood Memorial, Gemologist has become a trendy pick to win the 2012 Kentucky Derby, but Union Rags will barely beat him out for that race.
In the next race, Gemologist will be back with a vengeance, and he will be sure to take the Preakness, ending our hopes of a Triple Crown-winner.
Gemologist has won both prep races for the Kentucky Derby he has been a part of, showing some serious talent. However, Churchill Downs won't be kind to him. He has incredible stamina, and that will help him to win the race around the huge Belmont track.
A mile-and-a-half is a long distance, and I only have faith in Gemologist to keep his pace for the entire track.
He has the stamina and the speed to win it, and I would be shocked if he didn't. All the potential is there, he just needs to capitalize.
With this win he would also be one race short of the Triple Crown. The Kentucky Derby would be his only loss, and a sure-fire top finish there too would make us surprisingly close to having the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.
However, just like Gemologist in the Kentucky Derby, he'll fall just short.