The horses jostling for the lead at the end of the 2012 Belmont Stakes were different than the horses in the two previous Triple Crown races, but the scene was eerily similar to the first two races of the Triple Crown trio.
In a finish that was nearly a mirror image of I'll Have Another's wins at the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, John Velazquez squeezed Union Rags past Mike Smith and Paynter to win the race by a neck.
Atigun, ridden by Julian Leparoux, crossed the finish line in third place.
We didn't see the first Triple Crown in horse racing since 1978, as I'll Have Another was scratched the day before he would have ran for his third-consecutive victory.
What we did see was that the pre-race odds don't matter in horse racing, at least in regards to which thoroughbred will actually cross the finish line first.
Union Rags was pegged with 3-1 odds to win at the Belmont (all odds are per belmontstakes.com). Paynter was given nearly the same odds, at 7-2.
Their one-two finish makes sense, but what doesn't make sense is Dullahan coming in at No. 7. Dullahan was the pre-race favorite, at 9-5 odds, but finished nowhere near the front of the pack. He didn't run a good race and didn't seem like he was anywhere near comfortable on the dirt track.
He was supposed to be perfect for this race and became the favorite soon after I'll Have Another was taken out of the field. But he finished behind Atigun, Street Life, Five Sixteen and Unstoppable U—horses that were given 15-1, 8-1, 30-1 and 20-1 odds, respectively.
The case was no different in the Kentucky Derby. Bodemeister went off as the 4-1 favorite (odds are as per kentuckyderby.com), but we all know who won that race. I'll Have Another was listed at 15-1 race-time odds, but he hardly ran that way at Churchill Downs.
Union Rags was listed at 5-1, but he came in at No. 7. He finished behind Went The Day Well (30-1), Creative Cause (11-1) and Liaison (56-1) odds.
The Preakness Stakes was the only race in which the odds came close to correctly predicting the outcome. Bodemeister was an 8-5 favorite heading in, but he lost to I'll Have Another (5-2). Zetterholm was only given 20-1 odds but finished in third place (all odds are as per preakness.com).
So what do the odds actually mean? Not much apparently.
The odds-favorite horse failed to win any of the three Triple Crown races, serving as evidence that the odds don't always accurately reflect a horse's ability.
There's obviously no other way to bet on horses but to set forth pre-race odds, but this just goes to show you that betting with the odds won't always work in your favor.