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Despite the early retirement of I'll Have Another, it seems as though the 2012 Belmont Stakes was still a great success. Only one win shy at the Belmont of the first horse racing Triple Crown since Affirmed accomplished the feat in 1978, many felt as though the absence of I'll Have Another was going to hurt the races's numbers. However, that was not the case.
According to a report filed by the Associated Press, there were a staggering number of wagers placed for this year's Belmont, a number that was near historic.
A close finish led to the second-largest amount of money wagered, strong attendance and higher television ratings, proving people will still watch the sport on its big days.
In addition, the television ratings pulled a 5.4 overnight righting and a 13 share, which was 13 percent higher than last year's Belmont and a staggering 74 percent better than the 2010 Belmont.
In the weeks leading up to the 2012 Belmont Stakes, the horse racing world was hoping to anoint I'll Have Another as the first Triple Crown Champion since Affirmed accomplished the feat in 1978. Unfortunately, those hopes vanished when the horse was retired from competition on the morning before the Belmont, effectively ending any hope of naming a new Triple Crown champion.
However, if you ask Bob Baffert there was a Triple Crown won at the Belmont, albeit a rather dubious one. In each of the three legs of the crown, a Baffert trained horse was led to the front of the pack by jockey Mike Smith. In each of those legs the horse was overtaken at the line, finishing in second.
Baffert's comments via Boston.com:
"Is there a Triple Crown for seconds? I need a Triple Crown for seconds. I really thought [Paynter] was going to win today. He was doing so well. I knew we had the horse to do it and that horse [Union Rags] snuck up on him. He's still a young horse, still learning how to run. It's over. When you get beat, you get beat.''
The 144th running of the Belmont Stakes is in the books, and Union Rags is your winner. The horse who fell short of expectations in the Kentucky Derby and then skipped the Preakness Stakes finishes off on a high note with a thrilling come-from-behind victory.
Paynter was the horse who was on the other side of that come-from-behind victory. Paynter jumped ahead to start the race as most predicted, but unlike most predictions, held the lead through to the final stretch. In fact, Paynter was a good deal ahead at the halfway mark, and actually was leading about halfway through the final stretch. But Unstoppable U slowly fell behind as Union Rags came up from behind fast and hard.
The final half of the final stretch was incredibly intense, with both jockeys really pushing their horses. Union Rags took the lead right at the very end to steal the win away, while Atigun rounded out the top three. Race favorite, Dullahan, was second-to-last at seven lengths back rounding the final turn and has seriously fallen short of expectations.
Dullahan had become the favorite after I'll Have Another withdrew and was forced to retire due to a tendon injury. I'll Have Another had a lot of people hoping for a Triple Crown victory, and a lot of the pre-race buzz was tempered due to the injury.
Saturday evening brings the running of the 2012 Belmont Stakes, and you'll be able to watch online with streaming coverage via NBC Sports. The 144th running of the race saw a late shakeup to the contenders as Triple Crown contender I'll Have Another was scratched due to injury. Dullahan quickly became the new favorite, but Union Rags and Paynter are close behind. Dullahan finished third in the Kentucky Derby but will have a different jockey for the Belmont, with Kent Desormeaux being replaced by Javier Castellano. Coverage starts at 4:30pm EDT, with post time expected around 6:30pm. Full odds and information on how to watch online are below.
Post Position - Odds:
1. Street Life 8-1
2. Unstoppable U 20-1
3. Union Rags 3-1
4. Atigun 15-1
5. Dullahan 9-5
6. Ravelo's Boy 30-1
7. Five Sixteen 30-1
8. Guyana Star Dweej 30-1
9. Paynter 7-2
10. Optimizer 15-1
12. My Adonis 15-1
Streaming Information: Online coverage via NBC Sports starting at 4:30pm EDT.
Stick with this storystream for updates, results and more from the 2012 Belmont Stakes. For full time horse racing news and analysis, check out And Down The Stretch They Come. And don't miss SB Nation on YouTube:
The Triple Crown is the most coveted prize in horse racing. Prior to Friday's shocking news, it looked like the sport may have had its first Triple Crown winner since 1978, but I'll Have Another was forced to withdraw from the race.
That leaves a tightly packed field of 11 horses. Dullahan takes over as the favorite, but is closely followed in the odds by Union Rags and Paynter.
Post time for the race is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Eastern. The race will be broadcast on NBC, and coverage of the race starts at 4:35 p.m. Eastern. Fans can also watch the race live online at NBCSports.com. Updated odds are available here.
Post positions for the race are as follows:
8-Guyana Star Dweej
11-I'll Have Another
The picture changed considerably for the 2012 Belmont Stakes on Friday. Racing enthusiasts and an interested public was shocked to learn that I'll Have Another, a heavy favorite to win the race, was withdrawn from Saturday's race. Needless to say, that altered the odds picture significantly, and the field is tightly packed with possibilities.
Dullahan takes over as the favorite to win the race. Following closely behind is Union Rags. Paynter is a close third in the odds as the field for race now dwindles to 11 horses.
Odds for the remaining horses in the race are as follows, sorted by post position:
1-Street Life, 8/1
2-Unstoppable U, 20/1
3-Union Rags, 3/1
6-Ravelo's Boy, 30/1
7-Five Sixteen, 30/1
8-Guyana Star Dweej, 30/1
11-I'll Have Another, 4/5
12-My Adonis, 15/1
On Friday, I'll Have Another's Triple Crown dreams officially ended before they ever had a chance to begin. Winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, the horse was one win at the Belmont shy of completing the first Triple Crown in horse racing since 1978 when Affirmed accomplished the feat. Later on Friday afternoon, I'll Have Another's trainer Doug O'Neill addressed the media to explain the situation.
The decision was made early Friday morning when the Triple Crown hopeful was taken out on a morning gallop. Despite looking good according to O'Neill, the group involved with the horse was concerned with swelling that had appeared in the left front tendon.
After having a doctor look at the horse, it was determined that it was the beginning of tendonitis.
"This has been an incredible ride and incredible run," O'Neill said via a televised press conference on ESPN. "I've taken plenty of mental notes and I know we'll be back here next year."
Of course, O'Neill will be returning without I'll Have Another. The group involved with the horse has determined unanimously to retire I'll Have Another from racing. In retirement, I'll Have Another could bring millions of dollars in stud fees.
All of the odds were in the favor of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another for the Belmont Stakes, despite him being drawn to the 11th position in the upcoming race. I'll Have Another looked like the sure favorite to be the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown, but unfortunately he will never have the chance.
Early on Friday, rumors started to swirl regarding I'll Have Another's ability to race in the Belmont Stakes. It didn't take long for the rumors to become confirmed; I'll Have Another, for undisclosed reasons, is officially out of Belmont and the Triple Crown race.
Doug O'Neill: "I'll Have Another is officially out of the Belmont."— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) June 8, 2012
According to HRTV reporter Scott Hazelton, here will be an official press conference regarding I'll Have Another at 1:00 p.m. ET. No word is out on what caused I'll Have Another to drop out or what horse will take his place yet.
It's hard to tell how serious threats were that this weekend's Belmont Stakes might get disrupted because of a strike. But whatever chance for problems, a new labor deal should lay that all to rest.
The Associated Press is among those reporting that Belmont racetrack workers have struck a deal with the New York Racing Association, which earlier this week chided the Local 3 branch of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers for instigating the labor dispute on the week of the big race.
The racetrack workers had been without a contract since February of 2011, just one of the reasons for the potential strike. From the AP:
The major issues were overtime and the structure of the tracks' work week. NYRA runs races Wednesday through Sunday, but the contract covers a Monday-through-Friday week, which means union workers earn built-in overtime on weekends. NYRA was seeking to immediately take away overtime for working Saturdays and Sundays, a move the union said would cut some workers' pay by 30 percent.
The Belmont, which will feature I'll Have Another's quest for a Triple Crown, is expected to draw about 100,000 people.
I'll Have Another will try to become the first horse in 34 years to win the Triple Crown.
The 2012 running of the Belmont Stakes brings a ton of excitement at the possibility of a horse taking home the first Triple Crown since 1978. I'll Have Another is currently favored to win after having huge victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. But I'll Have Another's road isn't going to be an easy one.
Of course, the competition is very strong, with Dullahan not far behind in the odds. But things are made much tougher by the fact that I'll Have Another drew 11th place in the post positions, just one away from last (occupied by My Adonis). The full post positions were revealed on Wednesday, and Street Life will kick things off on the inside.
I'll Have Another is no stranger to come-from-behind victories though, as both legs of the 2012 Triple Crown were won in such a fashion. Of course, Bodemeister isn't around for this one, but I'll Have Another probably isn't picky about which horses the colt passes up to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Below, we've got the full post positions for the race:
With the 2012 Belmont Stakes coming up this weekend, the attention on this year's race will be amplified ten-fold by the prospects of I'll Have Another completing the first Triple Crown championship since Affirmed accomplished the feat in 1978. This makes every story more important than the last.
On Tuesday, it was reported that all the horses would be moved into the same locker room and will stay there until the day of the race. This move is fairly uncommon and provides issues with the horses becoming scared by the unfamiliar environments. With all of that in mind, I'll Have Another's trainer Doug O'Neill is happy with the arrangements and feels it should add some legitimacy to the sport.
Courtesy of BloodHorse.com:
"I know the other guys will probably hate me for this, but I like the thought of showing the general public all the horses are in the same locker room, they're all being looked after real thoroughly," he said.
"Just the transparency that our game probably lacks is key. You get a lot of commentary from people who don't know the horses, who don't know the horsemen, and don't know how they're cared for. This way you have everyone in an isolated vicinity and everyone who wants to come and kind of watch what's going on there and make a judgment from what's really happening and not guessing what's going on in that guy's locker room or that guy's locker room. I think it's a good thing."
It needs to be noted that O'Neill has a history of doping and is currently suspended for 45-days in California because of doping issues. It probably isn;t a stretch to assume that this kind of move will help clear any doubt in the case that I'll Have Another is able to complete the Triple Crown.
I'll Have Another's biggest obstacle to a Triple Crown might have nothing to do with the other horses.
On Tuesday a mediator was trying to settle a labor dispute at Belmont Park, according to the Associated Press.
According to AP,
The dispute threatens to scratch I'll Have Another's chance of winning thoroughbred racing's first Triple Crown in more than 30 years.
An official with the union representing maintenance and starting gate workers at the New York racetrack said the mediator was meeting Tuesday morning with the New York Racing Association and union leaders.
About 150 union members at NYRA's Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga tracks have been working without a contract since February 2011, a year after the previous contract was given a one-year extension. The workers last month authorized a strike to begin Friday, a day before the running of the Belmont Stakes, the final jewel in the Triple Crown....
The New York Racing Association said it was "extremely self-serving" for Local 3 to use the event as leverage in labor negotiation.
However, a financial secretary for the Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers insisted that the union did not wait until this week to threaten action. He said that the union has been trying to negotiate a deal for two years.
With the Belmont Stakes coming up on Saturday, I'll Have Another is one win away from completing the first Triple Crown Championship in horse racing since Affirmed accomplished the feat in 1978. According to the horse's trainer Doug O'Neill, the group around I'll Have Another understand what they need to do on Saturday.
Courtesy of Racing Daily Form:
"He's four more good gallops away from making history," O'Neill said.
With that in mind, O'Neill has decided to save those gallops. While other horses such as Dullahan, Paynter and Union Rags have gone on runs of varying distance, O'Neill has opted to have I'll Have Another go on training gallops rather than sprints. Apparently, the trainer has seen enough to feel confident about the horse and his chances.
"I wouldn't be so upright if the horse wasn't doing so good. He's doing well. He's eating good. He looks well ... I'm very confident. Not cocky or arrogant, but confident."
As a point of reference, Dullahan, the second favorite to win the race, ran four furlongs on Sunday. Union Rags ran five furlongs and Paynter ran seven furlongs.
Alpha will not be running at the 2012 Belmont Stakes next week due to a fever, according to the horse's trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin. The horse was running a fever of 103 and considering how close it is to the race the group around the horse felt it was unnecessary to take any chances. While the fever may hold Alpha out of the Belmont, the horses' general health is considering good.
Courtesy of the New York Racing Association's official website:
"He spiked a temperature on Tuesday evening," McLaughlin said. "103. He was fine by 11 p.m. that evening after treatment, fine yesterday, and he's fine today, but it's too high a temperature too close to the race. It's unfortunate."
Alpha was a 15-1 shot to win the Belmont Stakes in preliminary odds and had previous success at Belmont, coming in second in the Resorts World New York City Wood Memorial Stakes as well as two previous wins in the Count Fleet and the Withers before his also-ran performance at the Derby.
New York state racing authorities are taking every precaution when it comes to drug testing and safeguarding the horses racing in the 2012 Belmont Stakes. According to a recent report by the New York Times, all of the horses must be housed in single, highly secure barn beginning three days before the June 9 race. Each horse will also be subjected to a blood test on June 6, and searches and checks will be conducted on all equipment, feed, hay and bales.
Special attention will be paid to one horse in particular: I'll Have Another and his trainer, Doug O'Neill.
The steps taken by the authorities also include a set of specific safeguards directed at I'll Have Another's trainer, Doug O'Neill, who has racked up multiple violations in a handful of states and was suspended for 45 days last week by California regulators for yet another violation. O'Neill will not have to serve the suspension until after the Belmont.
Among the requirements for O'Neill, according to a confidential e-mail obtained by The New York Times, are that his horses cannot in any way be treated "without a board investigator present," and that he should not allow treatment of any of his horses "by mouth or in feed without conferring with a board investigator, who will first log the treatment and discuss the reason(s) for treatment."
O'Neill apparently isn't fighting authorities on the procedures. When asked Wednesday afternoon, he said he would comply: "I understand they are trying to protect the horse, the betting public and the integrity of the sport." O'Neill even requested to move into the barn ahead of the required deadline to help the horse get acclimated to his surroundings before attempting to win horse racing's Triple Crown for the first time since 1978.
The biggest story in all of horse racing is obviously revolving around the Triple Crown dreams of horse racing's newest sweetheart, I'll Have Another. Standing only one win away from destiny, I'll Have Another will be vying for the first Triple Crown since Affirmed accomplished the feat in 1978. In a report published on Bloodhorse.com, Affirmed's owner Patrice Wolfson stated that I'll Have Another is more than worthy of succeeding her horse's legacy.
Wolfson admits that in the past she wasn't ready to pass on the torch to another horse, but now she believes the time is right for a successor to emerge.
"There were years I felt it wasn't the right time to relinquish (the title of ‘last Triple Crown winner')," Wolfson said. "But I think the time is right. This little guy (I'll Have Another) would be a worthy successor. He's very tenacious in the stretch, he strides out beautifully in his gallops, and is a very exciting horse to watch. There's something about him that reminds me a little of Affirmed, the way he wants to win. I just think it's time. Racing needs a star and he could be a star."
I'll Have Another will have a chance to take his first stride to immortality when the 2012 Belmont Stakes is run on June 9.
Following wins at both the Kentucky Derby and The Preakness, horse racings newest sweetheart I'll Have Another is only a win away from capturing the first triple crown in horse racing since 1978 when Since Affirmed accomplished the feat. However, the Belmont Stakes will be some what different then the first two legs of the crown.
Bodemeister, the horse who I'll Have Another dramatically pulled ahead of in both of the first two legs will not be entering the Belmont Stakes. So now, fans are left asking themselves who will try to keep I'll Have Another from accomplishing the triple crown dream.
According to BloodHorse.com, fans can expect Union Rags, Dullahan and Mark Valeski to be the primary challengers to I'll Have Another but the horse could potentially have up to 12 challengers at the mile-and-half track at the Stakes.
BelmontStakes.com expects the following to be likely for the event:
Optimizer, Paynter, Alpha, Atigun, Dullahan, Five Sixteen, Guyana Star Dweej, Mark Valeski, Rousing Sermon, Stealcase, Street Life, and Union Rags.
For more on I'll Have Another's quest for the 2012 Triple Crown, stay with this StoryStream.
I'll Have Another will try for the elusive Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes on June 11th.
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