recently third in the Kentucky Derby, was installed as the new 9-5 morning-line
favorite over 10 rivals for Saturday’s 144th running of the
Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes.
The 1 ½-mile “Test of the
Champion” is the 11th of 13 races Saturday at Belmont Park,
which also features the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap,
the Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Just a Game, the Grade 2, $400,000 Woody
Stephens, presented by VisitNassauCounty.com, and the Grade 2, $400,000 True
The New York Racing Association, Inc.
(NYRA) is offering a $1 million Guaranteed Pick 6 beginning with race 6, the
$100,000 Easy Goer Stakes, and a $1 million Guaranteed Pick 4 beginning with
race 8, the Just a Game, featuring the rematch between top turf fillies Winter
Memories and Hungry
The Dale Romans-trained Dullahan had been
the second choice behind Derby
and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another before the Triple Crown hopeful
was scratched this afternoon from the 1 ½-mile race with an injured left front
tendon. The chestnut colt and jockey Mario Gutierrez will lead the post parade
for the Belmont Stakes (post time 6:40 p.m., NBC 4:30 – 6 p.m.).
Winner of the 2012 Grade 1 Blue Grass and
the 2011 Breeders’ Futurity on the synthetic surface at Keeneland Race
Course, Dullahan is a half-brother to 2009 Derby winner Mine That Bird, who was
third in the Belmont. The Donegal Stable color-bearer will be ridden from
post position 5 with Javier Castellano in the irons.
Second choice in the Belmont
at 3-1 is Union Rags, whose seventh-place Derby
finish is his only off-the-board performance in seven starts. Trained by
Michael Matz for Phyllis Wyeth’s Chadds Ford Stable, Union Rags won the
Grade 1 Champagne over the Belmont Park main track last fall and this year won the Grade
2 Fountain of Youth and finished third in the Grade 1 Florida Derby before the Derby.
Union Rags, who will leave from post
position 3, will be ridden by John Velazquez, who won the 2007 Belmont aboard the filly Rags to Riches.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, whose
favored Bodemeister finished second in the Derby and Preakness, will saddle the
lightly raced but promising Paynter, the 7-2 third choice in the Belmont.
The son of Awesome Again, a $325,000
yearling purchase, is 2-1-0 from four starts, with a maiden and allowance win
bracketing a second in the Grade 3 Derby Trial and a fourth in the Santa Anita
Derby. Paynter earned a 106 Beyer Speed Figure for his 5 ¾-length allowance
victory at 1 1/16 miles on Preakness day at Pimlico, highest among the Belmont contenders.
Street Life, most recently third with
blinkers on in the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont
on May 12, is the fourth choice at 8-1 on the morning line for the Belmont. Trained by Chad
Brown, the son of Street Sense has two victories in five starts, both coming
over Aqueduct Racetrack’s inner dirt course.
Jose Lezcano will ride Street Life from
Also starting will be Optimizer, 15-1, who
is trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, a four-time winner of the Belmont;
My Adonis, 15-1, attempting to give owners George and Lori Hall and trainer
Kelly Breen, who won last year’s race with Ruler On Ice, a Belmont
repeat, and Atigun (15-1) and Unstoppable U (20-1) from the barn of trainer Ken
McPeek, who in 2002 sent out 70-1 shot Sarava to win the Belmont.
Rounding out the field at odds of 30-1 on
the morning line are Ravelo’s Boy, Five Sixteen, and Guyana Star Dweej.