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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Weekend Handicapping: Union Rags to rebound in the Belmont

There is no doubt that there is a different aura around the Belmont today, than the excitement that had been building just 48 hours ago.  In some circles the race today is just another G1 stakes race now that I'll Have Another had to be scratched.  While I would have had him as my first selection, we all know how this race can change the course of racing history.  It'll be an exciting race for the 11 entrants going a mile and a half for the million dollar purse.  So let's dive in ...

Contenders:

#3 Union Rags ML 6/1

I'm going  to toss out the Derby effort, he got off to a bad start and with a field of 20 you have no chance after that.  He has won 4 of 7, including the G1, Champagne here at Belmont last year.  He has been working well, back to back bullets, and Matz makes a jockey change, putting Velazquez in the irons.  One final note, Union Rags has won both times when he has come back from a break.  He is fit and ready and I think the added distance will help him today.

#5 Dullahan ML 5/1

He will be the favorite today and deserving of that honor.  Like Union Rags, had a tough ride in the Derby but did close down well.  His connections skipped the Preakness and pointed him to this race.  He can handle the distance and has 2 G1 wins under his belt.  His last workout was a bullet and looks ready to go.  For me the big issue is the jockey switch.  Normally I like that angle but in this case, I'm not so sure.

#10 Optimizer ML 20/1

I admit I like this Lukas trained 3YO. I've been waiting for him to find himself and repeat that great effort in the Rebel. If Nakatani can keep him from trouble, get him relaxed and turn him loose at the right time, he could fly by all of these boys.  This is a race where I believe the distance favors him.  

Dark Horse:

#9 Paynter ML 8/1

He will be making only his 5th start but he has been on the G1 stage before, finishing fourth in his second start in the Santa Anita Derby.  His last 2 races he posted impressive Beyer's and will take the lead today.  It might be asking a lot of him in this situation but you have to be wary of a Baffert/Mike Smith situation. Hard to ignore Bafferts record with winners last time of 29%.

Bombs Away:

#1 Street Life ML 12/1

Here is another lightly raced 3YO and his coming right back after a fine performance in the Peter Pan (G2) here at Belmont. He finished third in that race and improved his Beyer nicely.  Chad Brown keeps Lezcano on board which is a good sign, has been working well and has one route race under his belt at Belmont. No doubt it will take a huge effort but if any pace occurs on the front end,  he could kick it into gear and catch them.

Selections:

3 - 5 -10

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