We’ve heard this song before. We know how it ends. It’s that time of year again, when the Triple Crown wagon pulls up to Belmont Park with an emaciated fan base or overflowing with those eager to see a champion crowned. When that bandwagon’s full, my wallet usually stays shut. Each time the Derby winner takes the Preakness, they appear to be a mortal lock for the Belmont (Courtesy of BloodHorse.com):
Spectacular Bid finished third at 3-10 while facing seven horses in 1979.
Pleasant Colony was third at 4-5 against 10 foes in 1981.
Alysheba ran fourth of nine as the 4-5 favorite in 1987.
Sunday Silence (9-10) finished second to Easy Goer in a 10-horse Belmont in 1989.
Silver Charm finished second as the even-money favorite while facing six sophomores in 1997.
Real Quiet was beaten a nose by Victory Gallop as the 4-5 choice in an 11-horse field in 1998.
Charismatic was third as the 8-5 favorite while facing 11 foes in 1999.
War Emblem was eighth at 6-5 against 10 foes in 2002.
Funny Cide faded to finish third in the slop at even-money against just five in 2003.
Smarty Jones was 3-10 and ran second in a nine-horse field in 2004.
Big Brown was pulled up in nine-horse field in 2008 as the 3-10 favorite.
My question (and a lot of others’) is… how is I’ll Have Another different than all of the above? The multitude of excuses ranges from bad rides to sub-par breeding to safety pins. Obviously, I want I’ll Have Another to sweep and give horse racing a shot in the arm. Most of us do. However, the above statistics point bettors in another direction… any other direction. I believe there is only one horse that can beat the Derby winner.
I’ve stuck by Union Rags all spring and donated to the win pool generously on May 5. He enters this race as a fresh competitor after skipping the Preakness, and is training out of his skin for Mike Matz. Julien Leparoux hit the bench after two troubled trips aboard ‘Rags, as Belmont regular John Velazquez takes the reins. Horses like Dullahan and Street Life take a lot of money in the Belmont, but generally are so exhausted by the quarter pole that their late kick is all but done. Paynter is bred for this much ground and then some, but like Bodemeister is pretty much raw talent at this point playing catch-up with the seasoned three year olds. While I’m not actively seeking an upset, there will be a few dollars thrown Union Rags’ way. History just keeps repeating itself, and I will be the happiest loser if it doesn’t.
Best of luck to all of you and I’ll Have Another.
We're giving away a commemorative t-shirt to the first 4,000 paid admissions. Plus, the Budweiser Clydesdales will be making a special appearance. Come on out and be at part of history, we look forward to seeing you at Canterbury Park on Saturday!
This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann.