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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:

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.