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Quest for the 2012 Triple Crown: Now there are four

Yesterday, I thought there were five horses that represented legitimate chances to upset I'll Have Another's Triple Crown bid ... now there are four.
 
The news came rolling in early this morning; Alpha would not run in the 2012 Belmont Stakes after spiking a fever this week. The unfortunate announcement raises I’ll Have Another’s chances of becoming a Triple Crown winner a little bit higher than they were yesterday. 
 
Provided that I’ll Have Another handles all the rigors waiting for him at Big Sandy reasonably well, and runs a race near to his ability, I now only see Union Rags, Dullahan, Paynter, and Street Life as viable threats to spoil racing’s celebration. 
 
I’ll Have Another has already beaten Dullahan and Union Rags. He proved better than both on the first Saturday on May. Both horses have been freshened since, while I’ll Have Another was running a gut-buster at Pimlico, and both horses ran well enough in Kentucky to believe that they still could be in the class of the favorite. Dullahan possesses a strong closing kick that has allowed him to be the only other 3yo colt with a pair of grade one wins to his credit. Union Rags had no chance in the Derby after the first twenty yards, has long been considered near the top of this foal crop, and already has run huge at Belmont Park. If either of them finish up full of run on Saturday, I’ll Have Another’s quest may come to an end.
 
Paynter and Street Life represent the X-factors in the Belmont. I wrote before the Preakness that none of the new shooters had a chance in that race, but I consider both Paynter and Street Life to be better than that bunch. Both colts are lightly raced and are coming into the Belmont the right way. Paynter, from the same connections of Bodemeister, has plenty of speed to force the early pace issue in the final leg of the Triple Crown. He used that speed to dominate an allowance field on the Preakness undercard impressively. 12 furlongs is probably a stretch at this point in his career, but I have little doubt that the talent is there. Street Life meanwhile, boasts a potent stretch kick, as seen with his strong rally when third last time in the Peter Pan Stakes. He may very well not be fast enough against the likes of I’ll Have Another, but if there are a bunch of tired horses after ten furlongs, Street Life may look like a star late.
 
Now of course, there is always the chance that I’ll Have Another lays a massive egg on June 9. It happened to War Emblem and Big Brown after all, in races won by lightweights Sarava and Da Tara, but more often than not, the horse who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness comes to New York and at least makes their presence known and fires a shot at immortality. Sunday Silence, Silver Charm, Real Quiet, Charismatic, Funny Cide, and Smarty Jones are all good examples of this. The Belmont Stakes may not have been their best races, but they all provided competition for the good horse that ultimately won the mile-and-a-half challenge.
 
The rest of this year’s Belmont Stakes field seems pretty weak, with Atigun being the only one I can really put on my, “could possibly pull of a shocker” list. I like his last race at Churchill Downs, but judging from his performances in graded stakes previously, it would be a big stretch to imagine him in the winner’s circle on Saturday evening. I have seen many talking about the other McPeek entrant, Unstoppable U, but with only a couple of one-turn races so far on his career resume, he would need to be Superman to win the Belmont. I’m pretty sure, Superman he isn’t. So who else is there? Optimizer is a turf horse. Ravelo’s Boy, Guyana Star Dweej, and Five Sixteen would not seem to belong in a grade one race.
 
So with Alpha out, it is Union Rags, Dullahan, Paynter, and Street Life standing between I’ll Have Another and Triple Crown glory. That’s it … that’s the list.
 
If one of the four runs a huge race next Saturday, and sends more than a hundred thousand fans home unhappy, so be it. All we can ask is that the brave little I’ll Have Another runs his race, because if he does, we all know he is pretty tough to beat.
 

 

What the Nation is saying about Quest for the 2012 Triple Crown: Now there are four...

I wouldn't consider Bodemister, Dullahan, Creative Cause, Hansen, and Went the Day Well (I'm sure I'm forgetting a few more) a bunch of 'nobody's'. They're all decent horses. We saw a fine crop this year- one of the strongest we've had in awhile that has a wide range of talents.
  • shredder · AGREED glad to hear someone say it. This does not mean the other horses were overrated. They are good & I H A just may turn out to be a little better. · 685 days ago ·
    like
You all can say IHA is not worthy of the crown or he doesn't deserve it or what ever you want, but the truth is, if he wins he deserves it. NO horse on this earth deserves the crown until they win it. There is no 'mold' that a TC winner needs to fit to be worthy, it's the horse who can handle all three races and clearly there hasn't been a 'worthy' horse for over 30 years, so I'm not sure what people mean by he doesn't deserve it. Who does then? I'm for IHA just as much as the next person and I'm pulling for him to show people how it's done.
I got a funny feeling about optimizer??? anyone else think he's sitting on a big one?
his pedigree is there, I just can't throw out d wayne i know he's out of the glory days
I hope not ... anyone but Optimizer!
Plenty of intriguing storylines here, phylis werth with union, Oneill and all the news surronding him, Julien gets Atigun possible redemption from being booted off union, it's gonna be a great one!! I'll be cheering for i'll have, but i'll play the odds with street life, good luck
I believe him to be an exceptional 3yo and I have been on him his last three and I have intention of betting him in some fashion that will be determined by the odds. Even if the odds make him unbettable I would love to see him win and do with the authority he is capable of. He is one of the most underestimated horses I have had the good fortune to get paid off well his last 3 wins. I didn't have his first but that's where he showed that mental maturity and I was lucky to have watched the replay.
Hes ran 141, 147 201 and 155 winning 4 G1 races WTH people hes been a superstar up to this point.. Get on board your gonna be that guy
He won all four of his races this year three grade 1's and won them impressively i don't understand you when you say he isn't deserving i have a feeling we will see something special at belmont.
I honestly do not think IHA is deserving or will win. But if he does, nice job.
If I'll Have Another wins, it won't be because he's a great horse, it will be because he ran against a field of nobody's and there will always be that questions as to whether his trainer drugged him to win. There's something fishy about the whole thing... I foresee Dullahan crossing the line first, then Union Rags...
Anything could happen in a 12f race, none of these horses but Dullahan should be here. Thanks for the tip.
I am reluctant to say this. But for some reason, I think Optimizer may be sitting on a big race. Distance is not a problem, and we know he is turf bred. I always fear Lukas. He seems to have the ability to get a horse up for the big races. Have to love the price. 40-1. Big balloons.
I know for sure Dullahan could catch IHA and I know he can get 12f easy. I also know UR will not be left far behind. It depends on how Belmont is, if it is deep and mucky UR is my pick. If it is light and airy then Dullahan will have no closing issues.
Paynter has the speed figures to match IHA.
As much as I don't want to admit it, Dullahan just might be able to catch IHA. UR isn't competition, IMO, but I'm really pulling for IHA.
IHA will be TC winner, by a Milkshake..................
Union Rags is the only real threat besides racing luck. They'll run 1-2 most of the rest don't have the ability or the experience. I think we might sen a nice stretch run between the 2 with IHA coming out on top. Then again JV gives UR a big boost as he does all of his mounts.
My money's on IHA and Dullahan, not too confident in Paynter's ability. My long shot is Atigun- I like the way he's been working on the Belmont track with long, almost effortless strides.
Yes Mary, Smith will ride Paynter. I hope you are right, Keith!

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 
  
As Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also serves on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
  
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives in Suburban Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra, where he is a professional golf instructor when he is not following the horses.  



Kentucky Derby 2014