With I'll Another officially out of the race, the door is wide open for a select few horses to shine on the grand stage.
Union Rags, a favorite at the Kentucky Derby who finished a disappointing seventh, has a new jockey, fresh legs, and 6-1 odds.
The new jockey is the veteran John Velasquez, who was very impressed with Union Rags' workout on Sunday, rode him to an impressive 58.5-second five-furlong tune up.
This is a dangerous horse with the sort of closeout speed that is well suited for a track like the Belmont Stakes—the longest (1.5 miles) of the Triple Crown trio of races.
Dullahan is another contender with 5-1 odds. He has a new jockey in Javier Castellano, who is incredibly familiar with the track and has won the Preakness in the past. Dullahan has another favorite at the Derby, and finished very strong at the end to land third place.
Trainer Dale Romans sounds incredibly confident that skipping the Preakness ended up being the best move to make for Dullahan (via USA Today):
I wanted to hit all the Triple Crown races. But Jerry (Crawford) thought it gave us our best chance to win a Triple Crown race … just wait for this race, give me a little more time to prepare him for a mile and a half. After the way the race set up in the Preakness, I think he was right, and I think we did the right thing.
He's trained super ever since he's been here. … He's just exactly where we want him to be.
These two horses are going to be right in the thick of things coming down the stretch.
Toss in a wild card with a ton of speed like Paynter and a late entry in My Adonis that is coming in off a strong showing at the Canonero II Stakes, and you have a field with plenty of contenders.
I'll Have Another may be out, but there is still plenty of intrigue at the 2012 Belmont Stakes.
(Odds courtesy of VegasInsider.com)