ELMONT, NY - MAY 25: Kentucky Derby, and Preakness winner I'll Have Another is ridden by exercise trainer Humberto Gomez at Belmont Park on May 21, 2012 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

2012 Belmont Stakes: I'll Have Another Retires, Union Rags Wins By A Nose

I'll Have Another will not become the first Triple Crown Winner since Affirmed in 1978 after being scratched from the Belmont Stakes on Friday.

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Belmont Stakes 2012: This Year's Race Draws Near-Record Number Of Wages

The buzz around the 2012 Belmont Stakes focused firmly upon the Triple Crown dreams of I'll Have Another. One win shy of the first horse racing Triple Crown since Affirmed accomplished the feat in 1978, I'll Have another was center stage at the event until the morning before the race when the horse retired from the sport forever.

Despite I'll Have Another not participating in the event, the Associated Press has reported that a staggering number of wagers were placed for Saturday's race. In fact, they were near historic.

Via the Wall Street Journal:

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.

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.

For more on the Belmont Stakes and the race for the Triple Crown, stay with this StoryStream and check out SB Nation's horse racing blog And Down The Stretch They Come.

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2012 Belmont Stakes: Next Steps For Still-Running Triple Crown Stars

With the Triple Crown out of the way and the wait for a new champion put off for another year, horse racing fans will be looking for events to avert their attention until next year's Kentucky Derby. While I'll Have Another's racing career is over, there are still plenty of competitors from this year's Triple Crown who will continue to partake in competitions.

Union Rags, the winner of this year's Belmont, will likely run next at the Haskall Stakes at Monmouth Park or the Travers at Saratoga. The Belmont runner-up Paynter will return to the West Coast prior to competing in the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga. Bob Baffert, the trainer of Paynter and Bodemeister, has stated that Bodemeister should running at the Haskell. Dullahan, the third place finisher at the Derby, could point to the big races at Monmouth Park and Saratoga, or trainer Dale Romans could elect to put him back on the grass and take a shot at the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park in August.

If everything proceeds accordingly, the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita in early November will certainly be a destination for many of these horses.

For a full list of notable races this summer, check out this article.

For more information you can also check out SB Nation's horse racing blog And Down The Stretch They Come.

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Belmont Stakes 2012: Bob Baffert Needs A Triple Crown For Second Place

Coming into the 2012 Belmont Stakes, all eyes were firmly placed on the prospects of the first Triple Crown Championship since Affirmed accomplished the feat in 1978. Those dreams quickly went out the window when I'll Have Another, the winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, was promptly retired from competition the morning prior to the potentially historic race.

However, if you ask Bob Baffert the trainer of Bodemeister and Paynter, there was a Triple Crown won on Saturday, 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. This prompted the trainer to request a new Triple Crown.

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.''

For Baffert and Smith to lose in the exact same manner in three straight races, with two different horses, is as remarkable as it is disappointing.

For more on the Belmont Stakes and the race for the Triple Crown, stay with this StoryStream and check out SB Nation's horse racing blog And Down The Stretch They Come

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Belmont Results 2012: Union Rags Comes From Behind To Steal Win From Paynter

The 144th running of the Belmont Stakes is in the bag, and though it's somewhat bittersweet, it was an excellent race, regardless. Union Rags took home the win about halfway through the final stretch after holding third place for most of the race. Paynter took the early lead and led through the first half of the race, and led still coming into the final stretch.

Unstoppable U was in second ahead of Union Rags for most of the race, but in the final stretch he fell behind as Union Rags and Paynyer battled it out for the finish. It went right to the end with both jockeys pushing extremely hard, but Union Rags passed him right in the end to win it big time.

Race favorite Dullahan struggled early and was second-to-last at the halfway mark. Atigun rounded out the top three. Paynter was expected to jump out into that early lead though it was surprising to see the horse leading through to the final stretch.

In the lead-up to the race, there was a ton of talk about a potential Triple Crown for I'll Have Another, who came from behind to take both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. But I'll Have Another had to pull out and retire due to a tendon injury prior to the race, which tempered a lot of the hype around the race.

For more on the Belmont Stakes and the race for the Triple Crown, stay with this StoryStream and check out SB Nation's horse racing blog And Down The Stretch They Come

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2012 Belmont Stakes: Post Positions, Full Entries, Start Time And More

The 2012 Belmont Stakes take place on Saturday, June 9. Excitement around the race turned to shock on Friday when news broke that I'll Have Another, a substantial favorite to be the first Triple Crown winner since 1978, pulled out of the race. That left the field at 11 horses.

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.

1-Street Life

2-Unstoppable U

3-Union Rags

4-Atigun

5-Dullahan

6-Ravelo's Boy

7-Five Sixteen

8-Guyana Star Dweej

9-Paynter

10-Optimizer

11-I'll Have Another

12-My Adonis

For more on the Belmont Stakes and the race for the Triple Crown, stay with this StoryStream and check out SB Nation's horse racing blog And Down The Stretch They Come. There, you'll also find A Beginner's Guide To Following Horse Racing and a glossary of horse racing terms.

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2012 Belmont Stakes Odds: Dullahan The Favorite After I'll Have Another Scratched

Triple Crown favorite I'll Have Another is out of the Belmont Stakes. Trainers pulled the horse on Friday. The news has shifted the odds for the rest of the field, which is now down to 11 horses without the one-time favorite. Dullahan is now the favorite to win the race with 9-5 odds.

Union Rags now has 3-1 odds, the second-best line in the field. Right behind is Paynter at 7-2. Odds for the fieldwithout I'll have another look like this, arranged by post position:

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

11-I'll Have Another, 4/5

12-My Adonis, 15/1

For more on the Belmont Stakes and the race for the Triple Crown, stay with this StoryStream and check out SB Nation's horse racing blog And Down The Stretch They Come. There, you'll also find A Beginner's Guide To Following Horse Racing and a glossary of horse racing terms.

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Belmont Stakes 2012: I'll Have Another's Trainer Addresses Why Horse Withdrew From Belmont

Only a few hours after officially announcing that the Triple Crown dreams for horse racing's newest sweetheart I'll Have Another were coming to an end prior to them ever beginning, the horse's trainer Doug O'Neill met with the media on Friday afternoon to explain why the horse was being pulled from the race.

"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, I'll Have Another won't be back with them as the horse is being retired from racing. The decision was made early Friday morning when O'Neill and the team took the horse out on a morning gallop. O'Neill expressed that he was impressed with how the horse looked, but was concerned with swelling that the horse had, realized it was tendonitis and the group unanimously decided that I'll Have Another needed to retire.

In retirement, I'll Have Another could bring millions of dollars in stud fees.

For more on the Belmont Stakes and the race for the Triple Crown, stay with this Story Stream. You can also check out SB Nation's horse racing blog And Down The Stretch They Come.

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2012 Belmont Stakes: I'll Have Another Officially Out Of Race

There has not been a Triple Crown winner in the world of horse racing since way back in 1978 when Affirmed won the three biggest American horse races. Unfortunately, the bid by I'll Have Another in 2012 to win the crown appears to be over before the Belmont Stakes has even been run.

Early on Friday, rumors started to swirl about I'll Have Another possibly needing to miss the Belmont Stakes because of an undisclosed problem. Later, those rumors were confirmed by the Dan Patrick show on Twitter; I'll Have Another is indeed out of the running at Belmont.

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.

For more on the Belmont Stakes and the race for the Triple Crown, stay with this Story Stream. You can also check out SB Nation's horse racing blog And Down The Stretch They Come.

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Belmont Stakes 2012: Labor Deal Reached, Erasing Chance For Belmont Strike

The threat of a strike no longer hovers over this weekend's Belmont Stakes, according to the Associated Press and others.

An agreement has been reached between workers from the Belmont racetrack and the New York Racing Association. Workers at the track had been working without a contract since February of 2011 and had threatened to strike unless they got a new contract.

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 NYRA earlier this week said it was troubling that Belmont workers were raising such a fuss on the week of the Belmont, which is expected to draw about 100,000 spectators.

For more on the Belmont Stakes and the race for the Triple Crown, stay with this Story Stream. You can also check out SB Nation's horse racing blog And Down The Stretch They Come. You can also watch SB Nation's YouTube channel:

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Belmont Stakes 2012: Morning Odds Favor I'll Have Another

On Wednesday afternoon, the poll positioning for the 2012 Belmont Stakes was pulled at Belmont Park and with it came the morning line odds, which favored Triple Crown hopeful I'll Have Another at 4/5. Dullahan has the second best morning line odds coming in at 5/1 and Paynter emerged as a new favorite with a 8/1 line.

Below are the entries and morning line odds for Saturday's Grade 1 Belmont Stakes.

1-Street Life, 12/1

2-Unstoppable U, 30/1

3-Union Rags, 6/1

4-Atigun, 30/1

5-Dullahan, 5/1

6-Ravelo's Boy, 50/1

7-Five Sixteen, 50/1

8-Guyana Star Dweej, 50/1

9-Paynter, 8/1

10-Optimizer, 20/1

11-I'll Have Another, 4/5

12-My Adonis, 20/1

For more on the Belmont Stakes and the race for the Triple Crown, stay with this StoryStream and check out SB Nation's horse racing blog And Down The Stretch They Come. There, you'll also find A Beginner's Guide To Following Horse Racing and a glossary of horse racing terms.

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2012 Belmont Stakes: Full Post Positions Revealed; I'll Have Another Draws 11th

While I'll Have Another is the favorite to win the 2012 Belmont Stakes, the horse will be facing an uphill battle when race day actually come. The full post positions were released on Wednesday, and I'll Have Another is all the way back at No. 11, just ahead of the final position at No. 12, where My Adonis is.

Dullahan is considered the horse with the best chance of denying I'll Have Another the coveted Triple Crown and will be starting from the No. 5 post position. Street Life will start it out on the inside, getting the rail to kick off the action on Saturday.

I'll Have Another has done some incredible things over the last two races, with come-from-behind victories in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. The horse is no stranger to snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, and while No. 11 is certainly not ideal, many feel I'll Have Another is up to the challenge.

Here's the full post positions:

  1. Street Life
  2. Unstoppable U
  3. Union Rags
  4. Atigun
  5. Dullahan
  6. Ravelo's Boy
  7. Five Sixteen
  8. Guyana Star Dweej
  9. Paynter
  10. Optimizer
  11. I'll Have Another
  12. My Adonis

For more on the Belmont, check out this SB Nation Cleveland story stream, or this SB Nation story stream.

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2012 Belmont Stakes: Odds Staked Against I'll Have Another To Complete Triple Crown

With the Belmont Stakes coming up this weekend, all eyes will be focused on the Triple Crown dreams of horse racing's newest sweetheart, I'll Have Another. Only a win at the Belmont away from the first horse racing Triple Crown since Affirmed accomplished the feat in 1978, I'll Have Another will be running for history. However, the horse will also have to run against the odds.

Courtesy of OddsShark.com:

"The Triple Crown odds bet picking [I'll Have Another] to fall short is -160 at most racebooks, while the ‘yes' is a +150 underdog position Saturday," said Jack Randall of OddsShark.com. "It's so much racing in such a short period of time and this race is just so much longer than the other two."

Here are the complete odds:

Will I'll Have Another win the 2012 Triple Crown?

Yes +150

No -180

Odds To Win the Belmont Stakes [ updates at OddsShark.com during the week ]

I'll Have Another 3/2

Dullahan 7/2

Union Rags 4/1

Paynter 8/1

Street Life 15/1

Atigun 30/1

Optimizer 30/1

Unstoppable U 30/1

Five Sixteen 50/1

Ravelo's Boy 50/1

Guyana Star Dweej 60/1

For more on the Belmont, check out this SB Nation Cleveland story stream, or this SB Nation story stream.

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Belmont Stakes 2012: Track Poses 'Perfectly Tumultuous' Test For I'll Have Another

Rain or shine, the track at the Belmont will be a major obstacle to I'll Have Another's quest for the triple crown, according to an article from The Baltimore Sun.

Unlike at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, I'll Have Another will likely be the favorite heading into Saturday's race, according to the Sun. But that doesn't mean it will be a cakewalk:

The race is long, the shape of the track unique and the dirt surface dry and deep.

Which just means Belmont is the perfectly tumultuous final test for I'll Have Another....

The last four horses to win the Belmont and complete the Triple Crown did so by running in front of the pack for the entire race.

I'll Have Another has won a race in that fashion only once, when he broke his maiden in a 51/2-furlong race last summer.

I'll Have Another won the first two classics by moving into position right before the stretch, but Belmont's sweeping turns have sapped the energy of many contenders.

The article points out other potential road blocks to an I'll Have Another victory. For instance, the horse's jockey, Mario Gutierrez, is just 25 years-old, and his inexperience could play a factor. The article also suggests that I'll Have Another's trainer, Doug O'Neill, has been particularly distracted in the wake of a 45-day suspension stemming from 2010 doping charges.

The article doesn't elaborate on how a distracted trainer might affect the horse's performance, but then bottom line is Saturday's race won't be easy.

For more on the Belmont, check out this SB Nation Cleveland story stream, or this SB Nation story stream. You can also watch SB Nation's YouTube channel:

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Belmont Stakes 2012: Doug O'Neill Confident About I'll Have Another

On Saturday, I'll Have Another will have a chance to complete the first Triple Crown in horse racing since Affirmed accomplished the feat in 1978. Only a win at the Belmont Stakes shy of the first crown in 34 years, it's understandable that everyone involved with the horse may have a bit of anxiety over the next couple of days. However, that will not be the case with I'll Have Another's trainer, Doug O'Neill.

Despite the fact that I'll Have Another won't be participating in a full workout prior to the Stakes, O'Neill has said that he has seen enough to know that the horse is ready.

Courtesy of Racing Daily Form:

"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."

To put it simply, O'Neill understands what it will take to complete the Triple Crown at the Belmont.

"He's four more good gallops away from making history," O'Neill said.

For more on the Belmont and Triple Crown, check out this SB Nation Cleveland story stream, or this SBNation.com story stream.

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Belmont Stakes 2012: I'll Have Another's Triple Crown Dreams Almost Become Nightmare In Near Accident

With the 2012 Belmont Stakes a little over a week away, the eyes of the horsing world are focused upon horse racing's newest rising star, I'll Have Another. Only a win shy at the Belmont of the 12th Triple Crown in horse racing history, I'll Have Another's every move has been scrutinized since winning the Preakness a few weeks ago. On Thursday, the horse came dangerously close to making it's final move when a freak training accident almost ended I'll Have Another's Triple Crown dreams long before they ever had a chance of starting.

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner was walking a few feet off the outside rail when Isleta, a three-year-old maiden filly, came sprinting by. The horse had shook its rider and charged just to the right of I'll Have Another, grazing the boot of exercise rider Jonny Garcia. Obviously this left trainer Doug O'Neill unsettled.

Courtesy of RacingDailyForm.com:

"I'm still a little twisted by it," O'Neill said, holding his stomach about an hour after the incident. "I've seen accidents happen before. Fortunately, everything worked out fine."

The incident led to O'Neill calling the New York Racing Association to see if training times could be allocated for Belmont horses to avoid these kinds of occurrences in the future. Such an arrangement is in place at Churchill Downs for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks horses.

For more on the Belmont and Triple Crown, check out this SB Nation Cleveland story stream, or this SBNation.com story stream.

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Belmont Stakes: Tampering Under Scrutiny Ahead Of Race

New York racing officials are clamping down to prevent tampering or cheating in advance of the June 9 running of the Belmont Stakes.

The New York Times and BusinessWeek each had recent articles looking at the "extraordinary" safeguards being implemented by state racing authorities.

From the Times:

The authorities said Wednesday that all horses running in the Belmont Stakes would be housed in a single highly secured barn beginning three days before the race.

When the horses arrive at the barn on June 6, they will be given a blood test that will be sent to the state drug laboratory for immediate review. The horses will be under guard, and a limited number of people - trainers, veterinarians and certain staff members - will be permitted to enter. Each of the visitors' comings and goings must be formally logged. In addition, searches and checks of all equipment, feed, hay and bales will be conducted, and veterinarians will be escorted to the specific horse. Lasix will be permitted on race day.

The issue is presumably receiving extra attention because of I'll Have Another's shot at the Triple Crown. I'll Have Another's trainer, Doug O'Neill, has a "long history" or doping violations," according to the Times. He faces a 45-day suspension in California stemming from doping.

The BusinessWeek article talks about how, in 2010, O'Neill is believed to have given his horse a "milkshake." In racing parlance, a milkshake is a cocktail of baking soda, sugar and electrolytes that is delivered through a tube, via the horse's nose, to ward off fatigue.

For more on the Belmont and Triple Crown, check out this SB Nation Cleveland story stream, or this SBNation.com story stream. You can also watch SB Nation's YouTube channel:

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2012 Belmont Stakes: 'Opinions Are Mixed' On I'll Have Another's Chances For Triple Crown

There isn't, and probably won't be, a consensus on I'll Have Another's chances for the Triple Crown, according to a recent article from the Baltimore Sun.

I'll Have Another will try to become the 12th horse in history to win the Triple Crown. And while the race is not until June 9, there are already plenty of opinions being bandied about regarding whether or not the colt can pull it off.

Big Brown in 2008 was the most recent Triple Crown candidate heading into the third and final race. Alas, the horse was unable to compete because of an injury. But that hasn't stopped Big Brown's former jockey, Kent Desormeaux, from weighing in on I'll Have Another.

From the Baltimore Sun article:

"A first-time jockey will be lost. I don't care how much you try to explain it," Desormeaux told The Daily early last week. "And a first-time horse will be lost, equally. If you think you can bring a horse here and introduce him to Belmont Park a few days before the Belmont Stakes, you have wronged yourself."

Team O'Neill - as O'Neill's large crew of assistants, valets, grooms and even a equine chiropractor is called - took I'll Have Another to New York less than 12 hours after the Preakness on May 19. He has run over the track there well, according to assistant Jack Sisterson, and galloped for a second time there Saturday.

"I think [the surface is] a little deeper, so the feel is different for him," Sisterson said. "But he seems to be liking it fine."

That Baltimore Sun article has tons of history and other tidbits, so it's worth checking out if in need of a Belmont fix. The official Belmont Stakes website is another good resource.

For more on the Belmont and Triple Crown, check out this SB Nation Cleveland story stream, or this SBNation.com story stream. You can also watch SB Nation's YouTube channel:

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