Belmont Stakes: Race Predictions & What to Bet After I’ll Have Another’s Scratch
Following the crushing scratch of I'll Have Another just a day ahead of what was supposed to be a historic race, what should you expect from, and whom should you bet on in, this now eleven horse field? Check it out below.
With I'll Have Another's presence now missing from the Belmont Stakes, I expect there to be some definite speed missing from the race as well. As I wrote in my two previous race previews (which you can find below along with a full 15 minute race preview from the 2 Guys 1 Mic Podcast), I still expect Unstoppable U to lead Paynter and My Adonis into the first turn and down the back stretch. But without the looming shadow of the Derby and Preakness winner sitting off that group's flank, they won't feel pressed. Unstoppable U will settle into a reasonable, perhaps slow, pace around the Belmont track.
Union Rags will be sitting close to the lead in the second pack of horses, with soon-to-be favorite Dullahan answering the slower pace by positioning himself far closer to the lead than he's used to. Through the sweeping second turn, I still expect Union Rags to make his move toward the front, striking the lead at the top of the stretch. Benefiting from the slower pace, however, don't expect Paynter to fold from the fight.
Down the stretch, Union Rags and Paynter will likely separate themselves from the pack, both trying to hold off what will still be a ferocious Dullahan charge down the center of the Belmont track. Ultimately, it's still a tough race to call. Union Rags and Paynter will both be helped by the slower pace, while it will likely hurt Dullahan. But with a mile and a half to run, I'll still take the closer that is consistently better than the field in the final furlong - Dullahan to clip the wire first.
What To Bet: Even without I'll Have Another, I think your play here will still be exactas and trifectas including Union Rags and Dullahan. Given the expected slower pace, I'll name Paynter as the more likely third option, replacing I'll Have Another - with Paynter representing the only possible win bet (Union Rags' and Dullahan's odds will both fall precipitously with I'll Have Another's absence). The next choice behind Paynter is Street life, who will likely be worth a bet, but gamblers would be smart to be wary of this colt who likes to come from thunder deep in the pack. I do think, however, that the pace will help the long shots that will try to position themselves mid pack, such as Five Sixteen, and Guyana Star Dweej. With both likely to sit at long odds, they'll be worth across the board bets and, if you're looking to get aggressive, a flyer in exotics. Check the link below to follow me on Twitter for live betting updates as we approach the Belmont.
And so the stage is set. A million dollar Belmont Stakes still likely to excite, but without the ever-enthralling prospect of a coronation. It will be interesting to see how the dark cloud of I'll Have Another's scratch looms over Long Island on Saturday. With any luck, we'll be treated to the kind of race that can brush back any of our lingering disappointment - or at least just some of it.