2012 Belmont Wrap and a Look Ahead

ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: Union Rags ridden by John Velasquez wins the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes with Paynter, Ridden by Mike Smith running second and Atigun ridden by Julien Leparoux finished third at Belmont Park on June 9, 2012 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

I'll have a look at the entries for this Saturday's G1-Stephen Foster and G1-Vanity a bit later on this afternoon. But first, here are some additional thoughts on the end of the Triple Crown season and a look ahead to the summer and fall:

  • After all the prep races and three Triple Crown races, I think we can safely declare that I'll Have Another and Bodemeister are/were the class of this crop of three-year-olds. Other horses had their moments in the sun but those two, both visually and on paper, were a cut above the rest of the group.
  • As I alluded to in my piece at the Belmont StoryStream at the mother ship, the Beyer figure for Union Rags' victory in the Belmont was exceptionally light (96). That number is consistent with the other figures from his career, both as a three-year-old and as a juvenile.

    One of the concerns with Union Rags this spring involved whether he's developed/improved at all from 2011 to 2012. Physically, he appears to be bigger and stronger than his juvenile season but on paper, when we look at the speed figures, he seems to have plateaued.
  • With I'll Have Another now retired, Bodemeister is the leader of the pack and one of the strongest contenders for this fall's Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita.The hard and fast surface at Santa Anita, along with his prior success over the track and his front-running style, could be the perfect combination this fall.
  • We've already received a glimpse of the plans for some of the Triple Crown horses this coming summer, and it appears that Bob Baffert plans to keep Bodemeister and Paynter far away from the Polytrack at Del Mar. The two Triple Crown runners-up are being pointed towards the summer races at Monmouth and Saratoga before returning to SoCal in the fall, likely for a start during the Santa Anita fall meeting.

    Given the strength of the two Baffert colts - running on the front end of the pack and controlling the pace - the decision to avoid Del Mar would seem wise.
  • If the Breeders' Cup were at Churchill Downs again this fall, you could make an argument for keeping Dullahan on the dirt given the fact that he's run well in Louisville in prior races. But with the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita and a poor showing from Dullahan at Belmont, perhaps it's time to put this colt back on the turf? The Virginia Derby and the Secretariat Stakes seem like logical spots for this colt if the connections were to decide to target grass races this summer.
  • Prior to his connections announcing that they were going to skip the Belmont, trainer Mike Harrington indicated that he'd like to get Creative Cause on the grass sometime this summer. That's probably a good idea for the son of European champion Giant's Causeway. Given his pedigree and his success across multiple surfaces, the connections of Creative Cause has a lot of options going forward as to where to race.
  • If D. Wayne Lukas doesn't put Optimizer back on the turf or synthetics in his next start... well, I just don't know how to complete that sentence.

    You have to wonder where Optimizer's current mental state stands after repeatedly finishing up the track to better horses.
  • Guyana Star Dweej was eased at the end of the Belmont due to being so far behind the rest of the field that it wasn't even worth it to keep running. It's one thing to "take a shot" with an outclassed colt in a big race. It's another to run a horse that, until very recently, couldn't handle maiden claimers.
  • In a related side note with Guyana Star Dweej: how in the hell was this colt only 23/1? Seriously people! Who was betting on this colt? He should have been a MINIMUM of 50/1, and deserved to be 100/1. You had a better chance of making money on this colt had you lit your money on fire, which is to say you had no chance to make money.
  • A decent run from the deep closing Street Life in the Belmont. Post-race comments indicated that the plan was to have this colt closer to the lead in this race but, as it turns out many times, the horse had little to no interest in obliging.
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