Belmont Stakes 2012: What I'll Have Another Must Do to Win

Thomas ConroyCorrespondent IJune 8, 2012

ELMONT, NY - JUNE 07:  Triple Crown Hopefull I'll Have Another is bathed with exercise rider Jonny Garcia looking on after a morning workout at Belmont Park on June 7, 2012 in Elmont, New York.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

On Saturday, all eyes in the horse racing community will be on I’ll Have Another, who is the odds-on favorite to become racing’s first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Thirty horses have entered the Belmont Stakes with a chance of becoming the crown jewel of the sport, but only 11 have achieved the honor.

The final leg of the Triple Crown is the truest form of a stamina test for a thoroughbred, as Belmont is 1.5 miles long. Horses that receive a lot of attention often fail to deliver come post time. I’ll Have Another is the prohibitive 4/5 favorite in the race, as the last favorite to win was Afleet Alex in 2005.

Handicapping the Belmont is a much easier task than the other two legs of the Triple Crown, as the field is smaller. This Saturday, we will have 12 horses with post positions, as opposed to 20 horses coming out of the starting gate at Churchill Downs.

You must gauge a horse’s ability to handle the farther distance, and due to their grueling schedule, workouts prior to the Belmont will not play a factor in determining a winner.

Horses like I’ll Have Another, who likes to rally from far back in the field, will have trouble winning this race. Ideally, you want to maintain a good pace coming out of the starting gate and then kick it into high gear heading into the backstretch for the win.

I’ll Have Another’s main competition will come from two horses, who could make the Belmont a very tough race. The trainer for Union Rags made a jockey change to John Velazquez, as he’s looking for a more aggressive ride this Saturday. Belmont Park’s track distance works to Dullahan’s advantage, as this horse is bred to run all day.

You can’t help but root for I’ll Have Another in his chase for immortally. The skeptics have questioned the level of competition on his road to the Triple Crown. A victory in New York will help silence the critics and move I’ll Have Another toward greatness.