Nothing has changed in terms of the big picture at the 2012 Belmont Stakes. I'll Have Another is still the overwhelming favorite to win the race and, in the process, become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Triple Crown.
The three-year-old chestnut colt drew the 11th post for the race in a field of 12 horses. While he didn't have the best of luck there, he's still racing against a field bereft of elite talent. The most dangerous horses running in the Belmont are horses he already defeated in the Kentucky Derby.
Two "new" horses to keep eyes on are Paynter and Street Life, but even they've got their work cut out for them.
Here's the last in the way of predictions from racing experts.
Joe Drape of the New York Times doesn't think I'll Have Another has what it takes. He writes:
Do the math. Will an ordinarily bred horse with a fine race record and solid — but hardly spectacular — speed figures carry an untested jockey around a massive racetrack at a distance he has never tried and pass the Test of the Champion?
Jerry Brown, a professional evaluator, was quoted by Ray Kerrison of the New York Post giving I'll Have Another a chance. However, he doesn't like his odds:
I’ll Have Another is the best and fastest horse in the race. The problem is that he ran much faster in the Preakness than he had ever done before, and four [Charismatic, Funny Cide, Curlin and Shackleford] out of the last five horses who ran their lifetime best in the Preakness lost the Belmont ... (But) He could run four or five lengths slower in the Belmont and still beat these horses.
AP sportswriter Richard Rosenblatt talked with one-time Kentucky Derby favorite Union Rags' trainer, Michael Matz, who admitted he thought Union Rags could've won the Triple Crown: "I really thought this horse could win the Triple Crown, and then everything went the wrong way.''
When asked how things were going now, he added: "He couldn't be doing any better. Hopefully we will see the true Union Rags."
With everything going the right way for once, many believe this three-year-old could be I'll Have Another's toughest competition.
What we have here is a lot of the same stuff. We know which horses can be impressive, we know which horses can do this and can do that, but at the end of the day there is going to be one winner.
I'll Have Another hasn't failed us yet, so it would honestly be a surprise if he was to falter now.
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