Belmont Stakes 2012: Horses That Will Struggle with Longer Race
One of the main reasons it's been so long since the last Triple Crown winner is the Belmont Stakes distance, which checks in at 12 furlongs.
That's two furlongs more than either of the other marquee races and makes for a tough finish to the five-week journey.
Every horse in the field, whether they were in the previous two races or not, will be facing an extremely difficult test. Let's take a look at a few horses that will be impacted more by the distance than others. For a list of the entire field, click here.
Even though Optimizer finished well off the pace in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, he returns for one more chance at a Triple Crown victory. He hasn't showcased enough speed to keep up with the contenders so far.
The longer race won't help his cause. He's already exerted a lot of energy over the past month, so it's impossible to know how much he has left in the tank for the Belmont. Starting on the outside just adds another problem to the mix.
He has given no indication that he'll be able to contend against an elite field, and the odds are stacked even more against him on Saturday due to the distance.
Guyana Star Dweej: 50-1
It was surprising to see Guyana Star Dweej make the Belmont field.
While he's finished in second place or better in his last five races, he did not face caliber of horses he'll go up against on Saturday in the Belmont.
The combination of the step-up in class and the longest race, by far, of his career doesn't bode well for his chances of making an impact. The race will be an entirely new experience for him, and that's always a tough situation.
Usually you want to see a horse conquer the shorter distances on a consistent basis before moving up to the next level. Guyana Star Dweej didn't do that, so he'll likely struggle on Saturday.
Which horse will be impacted most by the distance?
Five Sixteen: 50-1
Another long shot, Five Sixteen last raced in a six-furlong allowance race in April and finished in fourth place.
That doesn't exactly scream Belmont contender. Add in the fact he has never raced beyond nine furlongs, and it's easy to see why his odds are so high.
Speed is also an issue for Five Sixteen. It's not the most important factor in a longer race, but his lack of pace in previous races makes it unlikely he'll be able to remain a threat. His only chance would be if all the other horses wear down, but that's highly unlikely.
An extended race like the Belmont rewards consistency. The winning horse will have to stay under control for more than two minutes.
Five Sixteen hasn't shown enough to get viewed as a realistic choice.
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