Belmont Stakes 2012: Long Shots with the Best Odds to Win

Carlos TorresContributor IJune 7, 2012

Belmont Stakes 2012: Long Shots with the Best Odds to Win

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    The Belmont Stakes, known as "The Test of a Champion," is the third leg of American horse racing's Triple Crown and will be run this Saturday from Belmont Park.

    It's the oldest of the Triple Crown events by six years over the Preakness Stakes and eight over the Kentucky Derby.

    The race is always an event to watch, especially when the Triple Crown is on the line. Thirty horses have been eligible to win the Triple Crown coming into the Belmont Stakes, and 11 have succeeded.

    Triple Crown dreams have been trounced 19 times, 11 of which have been in the past 34 years since Affirmed became the last one to sweep all three races of the Triple Crown.

    Long shots are part of racing, and the Belmont Stakes is no stranger to them. The longest shot in Belmont Stakes history was 70-1 Sarava, who ended War Emblem's Triple Crown bid in 2002.

    This year, I'll Have Another is the horse that will be going for the Triple Crown. Will we have a long shot spoiling the dreams of his connections and the fans of seeing the 12th Triple Crown winner in history?

    If it's going to happen with a long shot, let's take a quick look at who might be able to pull the upset.

Atigun

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    Jockey: Julien R. Leparoux
    Trainer: Kenneth G. McPeek
    Owner: Shortleaf Stable, Inc.
    Record: 9-3-1-0
    Best Beyer: 89
    Morning Line: 30-1

    By the numbers, this horse doesn't have too much of a chance to win here. His best Beyers have come on his last two races, but he needs to step it up if he is to surprise here.

    But his last race was interesting in the sense that he was bumped coming out of the gate and settled in nicely into last place, before making a sweeping move five-wide and then blowing by the entire field for a comfortable victory.

    The field was a class below, but he certainly provided an eye-catching performance and has excellent workouts (four furlongs in 46.6 seconds) for the race. If he moves forward and the ones above take a step back, I like his odds at winning.

    He also reminds me a lot of Sarava, who came into the Belmont after winning an ungraded stakes (Sir Barton) against unheralded opposition in the very same way Atigun won his $100,000 optional claimer race.

    Another big similarity, the two horses share the trainer Ken McPeek.

Street Life

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    Jockey: Jose Lezcano
    Trainer: Chad C. Brown
    Owner: Magnolia Racing Stable LLC and Hidden Brook Farm
    Record: 5-2-0-1
    Best Beyer: 93
    Morning Line: 12-1

    This horse might have some short odds for a possible long shot, but at 12-1, you may expect him to go for as much as 15-1.

    Street Life has won twice, including a low-tier ungraded stakes (Broad Brush Stakes), and was entered in the Wood Memorial. He made a ground saving race and started his move towards the front but flattened out on the home stretch.

    In the Peter Pan, he added blinkers, finished a fast-closing third and improved enough to earn a career best Beyer.

    What was exactly the improvement? The blinkers, or the fact that he got a better pace in the Peter Pan?

    At the Wood Memorial, the pace wasn't slow, but it wasn't fast either, and he got too far behind and too late to start his rally.

    At the Peter Pan, he got an honest pace and was better placed, so he was able to have a better closing finish.

    It's unlikely there will be a suicidal pace here, but he should be able to be closer. While he needs a career best, as we have seen in the past, the favorites do not always show their best. So if he has the best race of his career, he has a good chance here.

Optimizer

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    Jockey: Corey S. Nakatani
    Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas
    Owner: Bluegrass Hall LLC
    Record: 11-1-2-1
    Best Beyer: 91
    Morning Line: 20-1

    His best race is still the eye-catching second-place finish to Secret Circle at the Rebel Stakes. He was mowing down the competition and fell short of upsetting the field that day.

    But that has been Optimizer's only finish in the money in six tries this year. He comes from finishing 11th in the Derby and rallied for sixth in the Preakness. He also has only one win in 11 career starts.

    His trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, is a four-time Belmont Stakes winner. Before the Derby he had said that the big sweeping turns and the 1.5 miles of Belmont were better suited for Optimizer.

    The colt is working great, so he seems to be in great shape. So far, it seems like he is just not good enough to compete with the top of the crop.

    But in a race full of uncertainties, why not go with a certain one?

    Only one horse has the true pedigree that screams for this race, and that is Optimizer. When everyone else starts to flatten out, he will be running.

    So why not take a shot on the betting windows with him?