Belmont Stakes 2012: Union Rags Will Hold off Dullahan

Joseph CiracoCorrespondent IJune 9, 2012

John Velazquez could be the difference today.
John Velazquez could be the difference today.Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Union Rags is going to win the 144th Belmont Stakes today. In fact, even if I'll Have Another Another wasn't scratched, Union Rags was going to prevent him from winning the Triple Crown.

If you're going to bet the Grade One Belmont, this is how I suggest you make your wager and why.

Union Rags is the clear class of the race. I always love when a horse has winning experience over a track, and Union Rags was sensational when winning over the Belmont dirt on Oct. 11, 2011. I also love the five furlong bullet drill of 59 flat on June 3. John Velazquez is the last piece to the puzzle—a huge advantage for Union Rags—as he takes over the riding assignment from Julien Leparoux.

Dullahan is the only other horse I can see winning this race. Trainer Dale Romans appears to have this horse sharp, as Dullahan drilled four furlongs in 45.4, which was the best four furlong drill on June 3. Based on his career, this colt will love the 10 furlong distance today, despite having just a 261 Beyer rating for the distance.

Those are the two top keys.

Underneath Union Rags and Dullahan, I think Paynter is the most interesting horse. Mike Smith is the jockey for this Bob Baffert-trained horse. This lightly raced colt has shown marked improvement in all four starts, including a 106 Beyer rating in his last start, which he easily won. Without much other early speed in this race, I expect Paynter to be on the front early but with reasonable fractions.

Street Life has to be part of your trifecta wagering. Street Life is the deep closer in this race and ran a very nice race in the Grade Two Peter Pan on May 12, when he finished a respectable second over the main track at Belmont. Great value here.

With limited early speed in the field of 11, I expect Paynter and Unstoppable U to lead the race for the first six furlongs. My Adonis will be right behind, with Union Rags a few lengths off the lead and Dullahan right behind him. As they turn for him, I expect Union Rags to take the lead and hold off Dullahan and Street Life.

For my superfecta wagering, I'm going to add in Unstoppable U, who is really inexperienced, with just two career starts, but appears to have talent. Trainer Kenneth McPeek has seen his horse run twice and win both races.

Union Rags over Dullahan, followed by Paynter, Street Life and Unstoppable U.