The heat is on for the 2012 Belmont Stakes and the chance that I'll Have Another will win the Triple Crown. Since May 23, news has surfaced about this race that will intrigue amateur and professional horse racing connoisseurs alike. Of course, all of this new unique information can help to predict the real odds of the Belmont Stakes.
1. Union Rags has jockey change
After losing the Kentucky Derby,trainer Michael Matz felt a change was needed. On May 23, it was announced by DRF.com that jockey John Velazquez will replace Julien Leparoux on Union Rags for the Belmont Stakes.
About the change, Matz said, "I don't know whose fault it is," Matz said. "Maybe it's the jockey's fault. Maybe it's the horse's fault. Maybe it's the trainer's fault. Maybe we won't have a better result. But we have to try something."
2. Hall of Fame jockey doubts Triple Crown
Will there be a 12th Triple Crown winner this year? One Hall of Fame jockey does not seem to think so. In an AOL interview, Kent Desormeaux says that I'll Have Another's jockey, Mario Gutierrez, "does not have what it takes to complete the Triple Crown sweep." Desormeaux also told the NY Post, "A first-time jockey will be lost (at Belmont Park). I don't care how much you try to explain it."
3. I'll Have Another's trainer at the Belmont?
May 24 had an article posted from multiple sources that trainer Doug O'Neill suspended for a month and a half by the California Horse Racing Board. The charges of being over the limit for "total carbon dioxide level in a racehorse" did not say I'll Have Another was doped. Does this mean O'Neill will not be in the Belmont Stakes? Thankfully, a UTSanDiego.com report states O'Neill's suspension does not begin until July 1.
4. Horse racing writer fired
Tom Pedulla is a regular voice covering horse racing events for USA Today. If you have looked to Pedulla for advice about making your odds over the past 15 years, you will not see him this year for the Belmont Stakes. According to the blog the ShermanReport.com, "he was looking forward to covering I'll Have Another's bid for the Triple Crown at the upcoming Belmont Stakes." On May 24 Pedulla and other sports writers were fired.
5. I'll Have Another secret weapon banned
The odds for the Belmont Stakes may feel a little shaky after the May 27 article by the NY Post. In it, it was revealed that, "According to Dr. Ted Hill, the Jockey Club steward at the NYRA tracks, studies have shown that equine nasal strips can be performance-enhancing by reducing fatigue and possibly preventing bleeding." Used in the past four races that I'll Have Another won, the FlairStrips.com product will not be allowed in the Belmont Stakes.
6. Bodemeister in the Belmont?
Preakness and Kentucky Derby oddsmakers have been wild for Bodemeister. A fine Thoroughbred, DRF.com announced on May 27 that Bob Baffert decided that Bodemeister will not be in the Belmont Stakes. However, Baffert has another horse racing on June 9 named Paynter.
7. No morning workout videos
An important tool for oddsmakers and handicappers is watching the morning workout videos. From these clips, it is easier to judge the condition of the horse on that particular track. Interestingly, I'll Have Another's trainer told the Associated Press that he will forgo this standard practice and will focus on galloping instead. O'Neill states, "There will be a lot of days when I'll Have Another, strictly galloping, will pass a lot of workers."
8. Hall of Fame jockey mentors GutierrezThe Belmont Park racetrack is unique and few rookie jockeys can take it on the first time. For this reason, I'll Have Another's trainer has a mentor for his jockey. Before the Belmont Stakes, the Associated Press says Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey will arrive at the track to help Mario Gutierrez master master the intricacies of the turf.
9. Last Triple Crown winner gives review
It has been 34 years since Affirmed won the Triple Crown with jockey Steve Cauthen on his back. Concerning I'll Have Another, Cauthen told NBC on May 29 his thoughts on the upcoming Belmont Stakes. He was feeling positive and says, "The colt has a great temperament, nothing seems to bother him ... He looks like he can be improving and thriving. It looks like he has a great chance."
10. I'll Have Another ceremonial pitch
On the night before the big race, NBC reports that the I'll Have Another's team will be in New York City where the New York Mets will be playing the New York Yankees. Tension will be high as the Triple Crown is anticipated -- but this will not stop Doug O'Neill, owner Paul Reddam and jockey Mario Gutierrez from throwing the ceremonial first pitch.
More from this Contributor:
Maryam Louise is a longtime resident of the Bluegrass State and has lived in the shadows of Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky over the past two decades. In addition to being a fan of horse racing, she has also had a chance to get to know jockeys, horse groomers, and betting clerks as an ESL instructor. Currently, she writes for KentuckyDerby.org and relies on her friends in the multiple facets of the equine industry for writing inspiration.
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