Intro and Early Belmont Thoughts

Welcome to the new handicapping blog on

As many of you probably know, Jason Shandler is leaving Blood-Horse. Jason did a great job of fostering a place for handicapping discussion on this website, and I am looking forward to sharing insights.

I made my debut on That Handicapping Show this week with Tom LaMarra, and we kicked it off by looking ahead to next Saturday's Belmont Stakes. I was a little nervous being in front of the camera. I promise to smile more in the future! I love the challenge of handicapping races.

One thing readers of this blog will find out quickly about me is that I do my homework. I typically spend about 3-4 hours analyzing a race card, and I rely a lot on video review. I pay close attention to speed figures, running lines, and chart comments, but I find information that is so widely distributed is usually overbet (plus they often miss important things). I have a good eye for emerging talent, so maiden, allowance, and stakes races are usually where I find my edge.

In this year's Kentucky Derby, I picked Union Rags. I knew I was beaten two strides into the race due to his bad start.

I got on board the I'll Have Another Train in the Preakness, and thought he was a significant overlay at 3-1. I also really liked Zetterholm's chances to crash the tri or super. His 4th-place finish at 20-1 keyed a $424 superfecta payout for $1.

So, how are we going to make some money on this Belmont?

My early opinion is that I'll Have Another is the best candidate to win the Triple Crown I have personally seen (1990 was my first Triple Crown). I'll Have Another is the fastest member of this crop at a classic distance AND he has a great mind, which will help him handle the stretch to 1 1/2 miles. But he's probably going to be even money.

I think Union Rags is a great horse, but I don't like his pedigree going an inch farther than 1 1/4 miles.

Dullahan should be sitting on a nice run, but he got a perfect pace setup in the Derby and only finished third. I will use him underneath in the Belmont for sure and perhaps as a 'B' selection in multi-race wagers. I like the jock change to Javier Castellano.

Paynter is the best of the new shooters. He ran very fast winning a non-winners-of-one allowance on the Preakness undercard, when he got a perfect trip against lesser.

My video review turned up two interesting but flawed long-priced horses. Both of them will need to improve bigtime to get a piece, a less-than-ideal scenario. Street Life showed a ton of potential in his first two career wins, winning from improbable positions. I cooled on him a little off of his efforts in the Wood and the Peter Pan.

Unstoppable U is making a huge class rise, he has not run a particularly fast race yet, and the Belmont will be his first two-turn race. Sounds great huh?  Those are very significant obstacles, but I like his first two career runs. This probably isn't the right spot to make money on this horse, but I can at least tell you he is better than his PPs look. He has a nice pedigree and a long, rhythmic stride that will serve him well at longer distances.

One thing to keep in mind about this race is that there is a BIG difference between the Derby/Preakness distance and the 1 1/2-mile Belmont. I am planning to go over the pedigrees with a fine-tooth comb to try to find a horse with real stamina blood.


Leave a Comment:

JJs Rocket

Why did I'll Have Another have such a bad race at the Spa. Was it the rain, his nasal strip or did he have a hoof issue that I heard about? He sure does look good with his fast gallops. Im going to try to beat this horse at the windows so this is likely not going to be a winning race for me.

Im hoping that he wins and at least runs through this year. He will be a rock star if he can pull it off. Going to use the Cali horse with who knows underneith. Ive watched the videos and will use Optimizer as my longshot. Think he can get up for 3rd or fourth. Im not sure where that Rebel finish came from but will need to find that and more.

Hope we finally get the TC that we all want. Good luck to everyone.

02 Jun 2012 4:33 PM

Welcome Pete. Personally, I like it that you have a keen eye for emerging talent, pay close attention to speed figures and do your homework. Sounds like you're a handpicked successor to the illustrious Jason Shandler. i wish you happy days on here and must warn you to be prepared for some heavy "shooters" and "rough and tough rumblers".  

One question regarding the title of your blog, whenever the winner is a "lock" how are you going to unlock the race?  For example, Union Rags is a lock in the Belmont and you'll be proven wrong about his stamina limitations.  Lets get ready to rumble!!!

02 Jun 2012 5:45 PM

As you look at speed figures and all numbers in-between it seems I tend to be of the old school and study pedigree and past performances. Everything points to I'll Have Another being a horse that can take this triple crown but being a lover of the Belmont Stakes I always look at the incoming stretch runners. Dullahan (my Derby horse) is the one I am looking at to upset the triple crown picture but if the Cal-bred Rousing Sermon runs then I don't think he should be overlooked as he could be a Drosselmeyer whom I picked last year to win the Belmont and Classic. He likes those stretch runs and with the Belmont homestretch it will very much be to his liking. I like Union Rags but have to agree that I don't think he will like this mile and ahalf distance. Paynter I need to watch some more, he may need more developing time, hard to say. But for the sake of horseracing I hope we get a triple crown winner. I won't be crying if I lose with Dullahan I'll be crying tears of happiness for a triple crown winner.

02 Jun 2012 6:08 PM

Excellent blog post! It looks like this is going to be a wonderful blog!

I agree entirely with your thoughts on Dullahan. While it is certainly possible that he could prove a serious challenger, his running style does worry me just a bit, for deep closers rarely win the Belmont Stakes. The race tends to go to the mid-pack/pace-pressing types that have the ability to maintain a steady grind through the homestretch.

For a potential Belmont longshot, I like Atigun, who was visually impressive winning an allowance race on the Kentucky Derby undercard. He has been training very well since then, and so long as he continues to train well in the days leading up to the race, I wouldn't count him out of securing a spot in the trifectas.

Good luck with the blog!


02 Jun 2012 6:35 PM

welcome aboard pete! for belmont i like i"ll have another to win, followed by dullahan, atigun then paynter. i"ll have another needs to get on with it as soon as mario senses a false pace, set by paynter and unstoppable u. then it's on to immortality.

02 Jun 2012 6:41 PM


Nice read, but I need to know more about you.  For example:  What is your favorite beer, who is your favorite quarterback, Rachel Alexander or Zenyatta?  :)

02 Jun 2012 7:51 PM
Pete Denk

Favorite beers: Heineken, Goose Island, Bell's

Favorite QB: Not the best, but two underrated longshot picks...Sam Bradford and Jay Cutler(!). I am a HUGE Chicago Bears fan.


02 Jun 2012 8:28 PM

Dullahan is not my idea of a deep closer; he's more a horse who is able to overcome bad starts.

02 Jun 2012 9:21 PM

Oh, and: John Labatt's Classic, what's a quarterback? and Rachel.

Love them both, though, and don't understand partisans on this issue.

02 Jun 2012 9:24 PM
Paula Higgins

Pete, you had me at "Zenyatta." I think we are going to love you on this blog!!! I also love Rachel Alexandra but Zenyatta is the Queen. I am a relative newbie compared to the others, especially where pedigree comes into the picture. But I know who I like and why. I had IHA in my top 3 from the word go and still like him for the Triple Crown. He has all the goods to win this thing. I think Union Rags could step it up too. But my heart is with IHA. So welcome to the blog Pete. If Jason is reading this, we wish him the best. I hope he comes over and blogs here and we hear just one more time "Get over it, she lost." While I hardly agree with it, we would know it was him.

02 Jun 2012 9:27 PM

Pete, we're you associated with handicapping at Saratoga with the Clancy boys' Saratoga Special?

02 Jun 2012 11:08 PM

Welcome Pete. Looking forward to your new blog. Also looking forward to the possibilty of a triple crown winner. I still like Union Rags but not sure of the mile and 1/2 distance for him.

FYI - I drink wine and know very little about beer and Quaterbacks (football -right?). Rachel was the best but Zenyatta was good in her own right.

02 Jun 2012 11:10 PM
an ole railbird

welcome to our world, pete. just remember, big brother aint the only one watching you.!! " an ole railbird"

03 Jun 2012 12:04 AM

I am looking forward to your handicapping, sounds like you really do your homework. I am sure we will all learn from you and in turn hopefully you will also learn from us, that blog here. Really enjoyed watching you and Tom in your first THS, and think you are a natural at this, so don't worry about smiling more, just don't adopt that sourpuss that Tom always bares(just kidding, I love Tom's demeanor).

I am predicting I'll Have Another will win the Belmont in spectacular fashion that will leave little doubt that he is truly deserving of the crown. And if he doesn't well I'll handicap another.

03 Jun 2012 12:29 AM


Welcome Pete,

I am looking forward to your handicapping and video reviews. Also what are your thoughts about RAGS dam Tempo as the link to distance for him?

03 Jun 2012 3:38 AM

Great sense of humor AnneM. That's okay, we all need a good laugh now and then.

03 Jun 2012 8:29 AM

Unstoppable U + Optimizer exacta.

No speed figures.

No hype.

Just breeding - specifically for this race.

I would place Five Sixteen in a steeplechase race or a fox hunt.

03 Jun 2012 10:19 AM

@Paula Higgins:  Ditto!  I'm a relative newbie as well.  I am an avid student and have been playing catch up for about 3 years.  It is a labor of love! Warts and all, this is a great sport, because it has the added romance of the beautiful creature that thrills us with their exploits running around big ovals.  It can also break your heart, as we all know only too well.  We can have fun, banter about and chide each other on our picks or our opinions about "who is best" type of chatter, but when it comes right down to it, I try to always be mindful of the horse and the best interests of the sport. Those who indulge in vicious diatribe and who can't appreciate an opinion that does not agree with themselves, I ignore. To respond in that situation is to get into the negativity some seem to relish.  I do not. Your new blog seems like it will be fun and informative, Pete!  Welcome to the neighborhood!

03 Jun 2012 11:53 AM
Pete Denk


Dullahan has shown a more free-running style in a couple of his turf races. Maybe he can be a little more tactical with the move to Javier Castellano.

03 Jun 2012 12:03 PM

Welcome and good luck! My pick in the Derby was Dullahan who'll run well Saturday but won't win; I think he's slated for glory on the turf, let's say the Secretariat at AP in the summer.

I also think, hope that I'll Have Another wins the Belmont, thus the Triple Crown, although I fear he'll be second on the premise that no TC champ has ever raced at Bel fewer than two times prior to his TC wins (mostly as 2yos). Doesn't it take a while for horses who are used to training and racing on mile tracks to get used to those long, long Belmont turns (about 200 yards longer than the mile track turn, so a total of 400 yards on the horse's other lead?

03 Jun 2012 12:53 PM
Windy City

Welcome Pete, you have huge shoes to fill.

Will miss Jason and wish him best! Looking forward to your blog; I read every single one but post rarely...Best of luck to all. As for my picks: IHA, Dullahan and UU. I really hope that racing Gods will show their mercy this year. Safe trip to everyone!

03 Jun 2012 1:41 PM
El Kabong


Welcome aboard. Like most, I'd love to see a triple crown and I hope he does it in convincing style drawing away. That would be great for horse racing and fuel some real fire for the future of this horse-IF THEY DECIDE TO RUN HIM? But with the Breeders Cup at Santa Anita, what a lead up it would create if he can pull this off.

That said, I can't help but think Dullahan will wear him down if Castellano can keep him in a position where he is not eating a bucket of sand while trying to run the race of a lifetime, which did happen in Louisville. He had the pace to run at but wide wall  came back to him slowed his progress and that cannot happen to a closer. Desormeaux had no choice but to swing him out 8 wide and still he gained on the the two leaders. Castellano has the machine under him to win this race. If he can get him to relax and sit well off the others, that big sweeping turn should allow him to find a much better path, free of a wall to slowly begin his advance. Castellano should watch Stevens ride of Vicorty Gallop and Prado's ride on Birdstone and let Dullahan gradually build up a momentum out of the turn, find the spot and wait to the 1/8th pole to ask him for that burst he is capable of producing. I'll Have Another does well catching the pace and fighting past but he may be vulnerable to a quality closer. That last work is very good sign for Romans and Castellano. He is definitely the one ton Matza Ball ready to drop from the sky on this triple crown party.

03 Jun 2012 1:53 PM

First let me say that I question anyone's knowledge of pedigree, when he or she makes the absurd statement that Union Rags does not have the pedigree to go the distance.

Some of you need to really look at this horse's female line, otherwise, when you question his ability to go the distance, your credibility is lost.  Really, distance is an absolute non issue with this horse.

So find something else not to like about him, because his pedigree suggests that distance will not be a problem.

ALSO, UNION RAGS has won two races at BELMONT.

Union Rags, I'll Have Another, and Dullahan, in that order.    

03 Jun 2012 2:34 PM
Karen in Texas

Hello, Pete! As someone said above, this is historically a rough and tumble blog, so be prepared! I really want I'll Have Another to win the Belmont and like the way he is working/galloping over the track. The Rachel vs. Zenyatta controversy is not something I have ever understood--their records speak for themselves, and they are now retired from the track. May all the Belmont colts have a safe week and may we have another Triple Crown by Saturday afternoon.

03 Jun 2012 2:39 PM

El Kabong, Dullahan had such a fantastic work.  With Casstellano winning it.  I'm going to stay with Union Rags; with JV aboard, I feel certain that UR will win.  I didn't feel that way about his chances in the Kentucky Derby, but I feel really good about the Belmont.

03 Jun 2012 2:40 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Da Bears, da beer, Da Queen, da real handicapper. Sounds good to me. Getting over camera shyness will take time. Don't worry about it. Just relax and be yourself. Good luck Pete. Glad to have you here.

03 Jun 2012 5:53 PM

If the top five contenders, Union Rags, I'll Have Another, Street Life, Paynter and Dullahan report to the starting gates on Saturday, we'll be witnessing one of the most talented Belmont Stakes line up that I can remember. These are quality stayers based upon pedigree and demonstrated potential. Of the others in the race Ravelo's Boy does not have the pedigree for the distance and Atigun is lacking the class to be a winning factor.

If the Derby & Preakness conqueror, I'll Have Another can pull this one off he'll be worthy of joining the ranks of the immortals, Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed etc. and I'll become one of his adoring fans. Also he'll lock up HOTY 2012.

As of now I still have eyes only for, "Beauty & The Beast" Union Rags but will not be offering (neither accepting) any excuses if he gets beaten three times in a row (highly unlikely to happen). As a matter of fact, I'm so confident about his prospects in this "test of champions" around the sweeping turns of "Big Sandy" that I'm prepared to forecast an absolute rout of this classy field. Yes indeed a rout.

Bring it on Jay jay.

Come out of hiding Coldfacts.

Join the badwaggon Footlicks.

Keep a couple of handkerchiefs close by Dear Karen in Texas.

Make up your mind Paula Higgins.

Mary, you go girl!!!

El Kabong, Dullahan flatters to deceive because he's suspect at this level of competition on Dirt and at the distance based upon his dosage index.

Predict, IHA in spectacular fashion? Really? How does he do that? What does that look like? wire to wire or stalking? 5 lengths, 8 lengths, 10 lengths? trouncing this stellar field? Wake up!!! I say WAKE UP!!

Where's Ted from LA or BOB from Boston?

03 Jun 2012 6:49 PM
Karen in Texas


Please cite a source for UR having won two races at Belmont. His pp's show a MSW at Delaware Park; a win in the Saratoga Special at Saratoga; a win in the Champagne at Belmont; a win in the FOY at Gulfstream; two losses at Churchill; and a loss at Gulfstream in the Florida Derby. I'm linking pp's for all the Belmont contenders if our new blog host will allow it. The link is from the Belmont site.

03 Jun 2012 7:24 PM
Paula Higgins

Ranagulzion, here is my top 3 in order of finishing: IHA, Union Rags, Dullahan. There, I have made up my mind. Next time I'm getting out my dueling pistols.

03 Jun 2012 8:39 PM

Regarding Union Rags pedigree his dam is a daughter of Gone West of the Raise a Native/Mr. Prospector line which gives him the mile and ahalf distance ability but his sire is from the Northern Dancer line and his dam is also sporting Northern Dancer though through Nijinsky who got distance but most Northern Dancer line horses have a hard time handling the 1 1/2 miles and wind up getting caught. Don't get me wrong I like this horse and feel that he has just been having bad racing luck as of late but this race would really have to set up perfect for him what with stretch runners I'll Have Another, Dullahan  and Street Life. I had seen earlier that Rousing Sermon would be running also and if that's the case he is a big stretch runner and this Belmont homestretch fits him to a tee  just in watching his past performances. But its horse racing and anything can happen.

03 Jun 2012 8:45 PM

IHA by 6 or more in 2:26 and change.  Union Rags does not hit the board.

03 Jun 2012 9:50 PM
El Kabong


"El Kabong, Dullahan flatters to deceive because he's suspect at this level of competition on Dirt and at the distance based upon his dosage index."

Base on his Dosage, he shouldn't have run a closing 3rd in the Derby. So much for that curbside danish left by a bad dog who can't see.

At this level of competition, not even your beloved Union Rags can match Dullahans performance on dirt. He was 3rd in the Kentucky Derby and I'll take that over any race Union Rags has in his portfolio. If you think that horse has a snowballs chance in hades to finish in front of Dullahan, I'll take your bet. Name your price.

Discount his Kentucky Derby finish all you want but only Went The Day Well came home faster than Dullahan and these guys will be running for 24  or 26 more seconds to the wire. Rags will be coughing up his lungs and the only thing more audible will be your swearing and the thud of your worthless tickets hitting the floor. If Dullahan gets the trip I think he will, the dirt comments on this horse will remain 6 feet under on any track he sets his hoofs. Only I'll Have Another has a chance, and a good one, to send Dullahan accepting the place. And I will be just as pleased if he does. This sport could use it, and a unfairly maligned trainer should receive such Karma. IHA and Dullahan run one two.

Oh, its on brutha. Enjoy the race. :)

03 Jun 2012 10:04 PM
JJs Rocket

Dullahan will win alot of races on poly if they keep him running. He showed he loved Keenland and he also showed he loves Belmont with that work yesterday. So I think he will run big at least on Belmont dirt. He is probably a selective dirt runner, some horses just get over certain tracks better.

Dont think that I'll have another will let Dullahan get by him in the stretch. So hopefully we get the TC that we all want.

04 Jun 2012 10:25 AM
Rusty Weisner

Welcome, Pete.

I had the misfortune of getting away to play a couple of races at Belmont yesterday, for curiosity's sake.  Very speed-favoring track, and it seems that way for the meet, as Rajiv Maragh griped about it when he lost to Shackleford last week.  Watching a couple races I really got a sense of how the broader turns can help a horse carry its speed.

This will help Paynter, or a longshot like Unstoppable U hold on to hit the board, while it won't hurt IHA and will be to Dullahan's detriment.

04 Jun 2012 10:58 AM
Rusty Weisner

Pete, Keelerman --

Totally agree about Dullahan.  

I think the money in this race, if there is any, is in betting UR not to be in the top three and for Paynter to beat Dullahan.  Most of my money will be on IHA to win with these two conditions.

Only three horses can win the race:  IHA, Dullahan, Paynter.

04 Jun 2012 11:11 AM
Rusty Weisner

I like Street Life even less after Larry Jones judiciously declared that Mark Valeski, the Peter Pan winner, wasn't a legitimate contender for the Belmont.

04 Jun 2012 11:14 AM
Karen in Texas

Ranagul----I suspect our good friend Bob/Ted is still over on Jason's final blog endlessly attempting to have the last word.....

04 Jun 2012 11:37 AM

El Kabong,

Union Rags' misfortune in the Derby flatters everyone including Dullahan. the law of averages is on his side now for a clean trip and maximum assistance from the saddle. I also like it that the New York Racing Authorities are leaving no stones unturned to ensure a clean and safe race aka level playing field (malice towards none).

Carlos in Cali,

Where are you Bro. Your silence is deafening ...oh I should've known AP Indy line colt good or durable enough to feature in the Belmont. Look pal, Seattle Slew is the sire of Dixie Union's damsire. That angle should be an excuse for jumping on Union Rags' bandwaggon.


Come on my friend, you say grand-dam Terpsichorist is responsible and I say patriarchal sire Hyperion is the culprit for Union Rags' staying power least we both agree here. Its time to break out of you usual conservatism for the greatest Belmont Stakes in living memory (barring Secretariat's record setter and the Affirmed vs Alydar showdown).

04 Jun 2012 11:39 AM
El Kabong


I haven't heard a peep out of Motion or Team Valor about Went The Day Well. Have your any info on his condition. After that last race, I couldn't help but think something was a miss as that was not the same horse out there in Baltimore that we saw in Louisville. Appreciate any info you have.

04 Jun 2012 12:37 PM

I can't help myself but to think this will be a match race with filler horses between Dullahan and IHA.  Win money will be out of the question for IHA as the souvenir bets will drive him close to 2-5 or 1-2 at best.  I imagine that my $20 will probably go to the following:

$2 - Souvenir Bet on IHA

$10- $5 Ex. box IHA and Dullahan

$8- $1 Tri IHA, Dullahan/ IHA, Dullahan/ 4 others, not sure who yet.

Welcome aboard, just be sure to avoid the hot button topic of Zenyatta, it can get a lot of people fired up in a hurry!

04 Jun 2012 1:24 PM
Pete Denk

El Kabong-

If I could have picked just one of the 19 also-rans in the Ky Derby to sit out the Preakness and aim for the Belmont, it would have been WTDW. I thought he looked like a great fit for this race.

I will try to get some info on what he's up to.

04 Jun 2012 1:56 PM

Hi, Pete.  Welcome.  When I have time from work, I will bust your chops some more but right now, please remember that Ta Wee/Shuvee/Dark Mirage/la Prevoyante/ Mocassin/Dahlia/Allez France/Dance Smartly rule, the others are nice to remember, WINE is better than Beer (although Guiness is pretty good) and it would be nice for I'll Have Another but I'm still thinking about Dullahan.

What about Black Caviar vs. Frankel vs. the now horse, Camelot?  Is Stephanie's Kitten still on track for Royal Ascot?  Who is Wesley Ward sending over?

Finally, congrats to The Queen (as she is set out when they are printing the "Owner/Breeder" in the race results) and her 60th -- she looked pretty good for an 85yo+ on a boat in the middle of the Thames on a cold, blustery day.  THAT's THE QUEEN!!

04 Jun 2012 2:25 PM

Gee, I hope none of the horses read about their pedigree. They might believe in what they read.

04 Jun 2012 2:29 PM
Pete Denk

Yeah Rinzler, some "mixed" reviews of the Belmont pedigrees here in the comment section.

I am working on pedigree profiles of IHA, UR, Dullahan, Paynter, and Street Life right now. Should be up tomorrow.

04 Jun 2012 3:08 PM
Pete Denk

Went the Day Well is pointing to the Travers. He might prep in a NY-bred stake or the Jim Dandy.

04 Jun 2012 3:10 PM

Karen in Texas,

LOL. You scored at Bob/Ted's expense here.

04 Jun 2012 4:04 PM
Rolling Thundar

Welcome Pete...…

Ranagulzion.....You need to call out for your buddy Draynay.....( Touting in Feb, UR, next TC winner....Ha ha, What a Joke...

I've had IHA since the Lewis, And I had stated it many times on Triple Crown Talk...…

But maybe like Dray, after the K Derby, you will go to you stall with your head hanging low after the Belmont.

All the Way I'll Have Another.

04 Jun 2012 4:39 PM

If anyone wants to drop a bomb on IHA, here's his most likely payoff:

 $3.00 $2.20 &2.20

It would be awesome if he went off at 4/5....but unlikely.

04 Jun 2012 6:45 PM

I looked over the past performances for the first time today and have the following as the ONLY ones who can be in the trifecta: Dullahan, I'll Have Another, Paynter, Ravelo's Boy and Union Rags. Breaking it down further: I can't see Union Rags winning. I don't see a closer like Dullahan winning. That leaves I'll Have Another/Paynter/Revalo's Boy as the logical three who can win. Paynter would have been 2 lengths clear of IHA's Preakness time had his race been 1 3/16m. This pace should be no harder than his prep in regard to pace. But IHA is the grinding type who can put himself in the position to run Paynter down late. Plus, with the total lack of pace, I am expecting Unstoppable U, Paynter and I'll have another to be 1-2-3 down the backstretch in 1:14 or maybe slightly faster. One could make a case that Union Rags ran a nice race in that GII FOY Stakes that went 24 2/5 & 48, but he beat nothing and hasn't won at 2 turns in his other 3 attempts. (will hang) Ravelo's boy has matured judging by his works since his Tampa Bay races. Add to that the 24 second mid-race splits in his last 4 routes and he should be in striking distance with 1/2 mile to go. I will be putting IHA, Paynter & Ravelo's Boy in the #1 spot with Dullahan and Unnion Rags in the 2-3-4 spot along with the same 3 horses. There it is - a $72 superfecta key. Mr. Denk - how you can see Unstoppable u being around at the end is a mystery to me. I could make a case for your other longshot pick, Street Life, but he will be way back also and have to outrun Dullahan (like THAT will happen) In closing - Baffert is running the wrong horse. Bodemeidter would C-R-U-S-H this field when the first 6f had him loose on a 1;13. Looooooooong Gone!!

I'll have another will most likely win and I will play back my supers with IHA on top of Paynter & RB, seperately in the 1-3 spots several more times with Dullahan and Union Rags rounding out the super. We'll call this "lesson" my unveiling party.

04 Jun 2012 6:47 PM
El Kabong


Street Life is coming into to this race with steady improvement. Coupled with his classic pedigree, on both top and bottom, this guy could be the one that fattens up all exotics. He looks like more real estate will give him a chance to grind out a nice check.

04 Jun 2012 7:21 PM

 pete-i just found out andy serling has selected iha to win the belmont. mr. serling is a great announcer and can talk the tin ear off a brass monkey but he is a jinx when picking horses. this is just another obstacle for iha to overcome that also includes no nasal strip, trainer problems, tough track and distance and a number of hard fought wins. if you could talk mr. serling off my horse i would appreciate it. if not we can all hope that he has actually selected a winner!

04 Jun 2012 9:02 PM


Lots of questions, just one answer, I'll Have Another will win the Belmont and triple crown. I tried to tell folks like Draynay and Jason not to even play Union Rags in the Derby, and I'll repeat that warning for the Belmont, don't play Union Rags, unless maybe it's in the fourth position on superfecta tickets, but that's about all I would give him a chance of hitting.

I take the statement that O'Niell made after all the little annoyances the last couple of weeks, especially the no nasal strip ruling by the NYRA(what a vexatious group they are), when he said something to the effect that he just wanted to get the race on so they could kick some a_ _. Get it? He knows his horse and what he is capable of and we are going to see them unleash the monster this weekend, everybody else will be running for second.

04 Jun 2012 9:17 PM

Alysheba, you made no mention of the fact that Gone West is out of a Secretariat mare.  It just drives me crazy that you and others make no mention of Union Rags female line.  Tempo by Gone West, Gone West out of Secrettame, a Secretariat mare.  I can't for the life of me understand why you completely left out the most important line of Union Rags' pedigree.  Some of you just look at what you want to see; your credibility is lost when you leave out part of the story (pedigree).

04 Jun 2012 9:59 PM

predict, IHA will not win the triple crown.  He's a good little horse, but unleash the monster, I don't think so.  This race IMO belongs to Union Rags and JV.  

04 Jun 2012 10:03 PM

Actually Union Rags has the best pedigree in the race.  You have two triple crown winners, one English, one American, in his 5x pedigree, close up.  There is absolutely no reason according to the female line of his pedigree, that the horse cannot run all day long.  He is bred to go 1 1/2 miles.  

04 Jun 2012 10:10 PM
Paula Higgins

mz, the Queen is something else again. How many 84 year olds can do what she does and still enjoy a day at the races (although she never bets)? Only one and England has her. An amazing woman and a great Queen.

04 Jun 2012 10:22 PM

 Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells, and cockle shells,

And pretty maids all in a row

Mary, UNION RAGS, has a nice pedigree, but it looks confused to me, which is how he runs, confused,with no consistancy. I like him from a visual standpoint, he is a gorgeous horse, but the winner of the Belmont, I think not.

For the best pedigree, I would give that to I'll Have Another. Even you, who so steadfastly wants everyone to look at the female side, can't deny that IHA's female side says Belmont winner all over it. Just look at his dam's dam side first five generations that traces directly back to Seabird, sire of Little Current, winner of the Belmont, and this is where I believe IHA's big heart comes from, directly from this lineage.

Mary, if you are a betting woman, save your money and don't bet Union Rags. This is good advice, believe me.

04 Jun 2012 10:58 PM

predict, IHA does not have the pedigree to go the 1 1/2 mile.  I do like the Mary, mary, quite contrary, though.

Actually, IHA was bred more for speed, which is all over his pedigree.  The Wyeth's, owners of Union Rags, have for many years, been thoughtfully and carefully breeding horses more for strength and stamina, rather than speed.  They run a prestine program, for the love of the horse.

With JV aboard, I can't see Union Rags losing the race.  I didn't feel that way about Union Rags in the Kentucky Derby; issues with the jockey.  

04 Jun 2012 11:47 PM
Mike Monarchos

Welcome Pete,

I'm looking forward to your blogs. I'm sure I'll learn something from you.

I think I'll Have Another will win the Belmont and the Triple Crown. I don't care how well Union Rags is bred, he simply CAN'T stay out of trouble. Plus his top Beyer is still only a 95. He hasn't improved as a 3 year old.

04 Jun 2012 11:53 PM

Welcome Pete. I love a guy who likes to deal with facts.

Fact or fiction?

There are stories in the press that have as their main point the line that the Triple Crown has not been won in recent years because horses are not being bred for distance. This is false.

The top sires in recent years included AP Indy, Dynaformer and Street Cry. The last two sired winners of the Melbourne Cup over 2 miles. AP Indy is a stamina influence.

Which of the following horses were not bred to stay? Point Given, Swale, Afleet Alex , Silver Charm, Charismatic, Sunday Silence or Pleasant Colony?  They were all bred to stay. They did not win the Triple Crown either because of poor luck or because they were not good enough.

The last three Triple Crown winners won the Triple Crown because they were superior to their contemporaries and suffered no bad luck. There were questions raised about the stamina of all three. They won anyway.

Breeding has nothing to do with this because if there is a lack of stamina in the pedigrees it will affect all the horses and will in fact make it easier for the most brilliant to succeed. The issue is class and luck, not the way horses are bred.

Note, there has not been a Triple Crown winner in England since Nijinsky in 1970. Questions were raised about his stamina too. We know what happened.

05 Jun 2012 7:48 AM

Zenyatta is the most overrated horse ever.

That being said...Da Bears!!!!

None of the new shooters should be considered.  Paynter finished a non-threatening fourth to IHA in the SA Derby and now has a non-winners of one to go with a MSW victory.  Now he is supposed to be close to IHA?  Distance or not, I can't see it.  Besides, the horse he lost the Derby Trial to, Hierro isn't exactly a world beater.

Atigun, in his stakes attempts has finished 5th, 11th and 5th.

Street Life's 3rd in the Peter Pan was because he had a decent pace to run at.

Optimizer is a complete toss.

Ravelo's Boy - a 4th and 5th in his stakes attempts.

Five Sixteen.  This is only his second start against winners.

Guyana Star Dweej.  Why is he here?

Neither of Unstoppable U's wins were fast.

No upsets this year.  Just box IHA, UR, Dullahan and Paynter and hope for the best/worst.

05 Jun 2012 8:02 AM

Jamesb - Read a book on pace. There is NONE in this race. Unstoppable, IHA and Paynter.... THAT IS IT!!!! Paynter and IHA will be lengths in front when Unstoppable tires. And the lack of pace is right in Ravelo's Boy wheelhouse. These three with have the only "win" shot with Dullahan and Union Skag to complete the super.

05 Jun 2012 9:13 AM

plodderman, "Union Skag", what a nasty thing to post, not to mention terriby unclassy on your part.  

05 Jun 2012 10:20 AM
Rusty Weisner


The track is also fast this meet.  I've just seen a few races, but I've seen speed holding, winners widening their leads.  

I don't like Ravelo's Boy, but I think my best chance of money might be an IHA-Paynter exacta.  I agree that betting against Dullahan in the top two is a good angle.

Besides ability and talent, IHA has a couple things going for him.  I don't think anyone will be able to get away from him and hold on to the wire, while I don't think he's going to move too soon.  If anything, he moved too late in the Preakness.  

05 Jun 2012 10:47 AM
Age of Reason

Stop the presses! Did I just hear a Blood-Horse blogger mention Zenyatta without a certain phrase ending with "get over it"? Say no more, I like this guy already. Welcome aboard, Pete!

Mary, if I may be completely candid, methinks thou protesteth too much regarding Union Rags. It wasn't very long ago that you referred to me as a "loudmouthed eunuch" for kidding Draynay about his miserable Derby handicapping; and now you're lecturing others for being "terribly unclassy"? Let's not forget the old phrase about the pot calling the kettle black. With all due respect, it seems like you can give it out on the blog but suddenly lose your sense of humor when someone criticizes Union Rags, as if they've blasphemed the sacred. I also noticed you spoke of I'll Have Another's pedigree as being speed oriented. How? His sire Flower Alley was a Grade 1 winner at 10 furlongs and runner-up (by a length) in the Breeders Cup Classic that same year after a stretch-long duel; Flower Alley's sire Distorted Humor is both the sire and grandsire of a Kentucky Derby winner; the damsire, Arch (also a Grade 1 winner at 10 furlongs), is arguably the best son of Kris S at stud, Kris S being one of the best stamina influences in America--don't forget that Kris S is the grandsire of both Blame and Zenyatta, definitely two of the greatest distance runners of the century so far.  This doesn't look like a "speed-oriented" pedigree to me. I can see why others perceive that you're not being very objective, falling in love with a horse and then trying to find reasons to support it, instead of the other way around. Enjoy the Belmont!

05 Jun 2012 10:53 AM
Rusty Weisner


I agree with you (good point about Street Life, who will be fifth in the betting -- Mark Valeski ran the same race off the pace and beat him handily, and Jones declared that one not good enough to put in the Belmont) --except on the subject of Paynter.

He was fourth in the SA his second start!  And in that race he bobbled at the start, ran off the pace (which I don't expect him to do in the Belmont).  Improving, fast, fit, dangerous.  He's a very good bet, as his odds hopefully will be longer than Dullahan's and UR's.

05 Jun 2012 10:55 AM
an ole railbird

i believe you will do a good job here. even tho jason is a " tough act to follow ". i would like to make a suggestion to all you sports (horse raceing writers). we need more history of the game. there should be 1 articule a week published,on the history of horse racing. if this is not done, the trend of the newbies so adamantly bent on rewritting the rules will continue to harm the industry itself. most of these people are have good intentions, but have been subjected to infortmation that was un true, un founded, un tested,&wa written by someone who was not well versed in this field. good luck pete, we need your contribution.

05 Jun 2012 11:36 AM
Toro On Turf

Welcome Pete!

I began watching horses in the early 70's and went to the horse track (Del Mar) for the first time in 1976. Have watched them win triple crowns. And have watched many lose the Triple Crown.

And with the last eleven not winning - then you keep saying that and you continue to be right because no one can win the Triple Crown and hasn't until 1978.

Saw Steve Cauthen ride at Santa Anita for his first time. Rode 5 winners that day I believe. Beating Pincay, Cordero & Shoemaker & other greats. Phenom!  

I think there is something special about I'll Have Another. And he can get this distance! I think Dullahan will run well too.  And I think that Union Rags is the best of the rest. Wouldn't surprise me to see those three go 1-2-3.  And I just have a feeling that IHA will not lose this race.  Very chalky trifecta!! But I will definitely box em!  

05 Jun 2012 12:01 PM


I can grudgingly agree that Paynter has a small chance.

I just can't get past the fact that a horse who didn't start at 2, making only his 5th start, in his first G1, is ready to beat the Derby and Preakness winner and 1 1/2 miles.

But that's why they run the races.

05 Jun 2012 1:12 PM
Rusty Weisner


I don't like him to beat IHA; I like him underneath, preferring him to Dullahan in the 2 spot.

05 Jun 2012 2:29 PM

There's really nothing left for me to say.  I'm looking at the 5x pedigree of these horses.  A colt's mare, and her sire's female line is very important in determining stamina, the ability to run long distances.  Union Rags was the product of a carefully thought out breeding program.  I'm just saying, he was bred, if you look at the tail side of his pedigree, for stamina.

I'm throwing out the Kentucky Derby, bad trip, jockey, not making excuses; this is the reality of what happened.  I'm betting on Union Rags, I'll Have Another, and perhaps Dullahan for the trifecta.

I'm not trying to make Union Rags fit into my scenario; his pedigree has spoken.  I will say this, if you don't look at a horse's pedigree, your betting on blind luck.  This sport is all about pedigree, jockey, trainer, track conditions, and little bit of luck.  

Zenyatta was purchased for $60,000 based for the most part on her pedigree. Read articles about it.

05 Jun 2012 6:59 PM

11 mentions of Zenyatta in this blog already?  She lost people.  Get over it.

05 Jun 2012 8:53 PM

I like to look at how they race to determine if they can get the distance in a fast enough time to win(after all, they will all get the distance and finish the race and almost any of the can win if the race is run in 2:30+). I don't consider 2:30 a Grade 1 winning time just an asterisk that there weren't any qualified runners that year so Belmont Stakes Grade 3 editions. I leave that pedigree stuff alone since all kinds can make any case they want in regards to pedigree if they go back far enough or latch onto the right relative. With that being said, I don't love UR. He runs like a sprint to middle distance closer to my eye. It;s a common mistake to think because a horse closes that he can get the next distance but its just not usually true, it's just their style. I also think he lacks any real speed. He gets out run at all the key points in the races he has run. He gets in trouble because he lacks the requisite talent to avoid it. I also can't like a closer like Dullahan who failed to catch a horse who handed him his dream pace and proceeded to walk in almost :27sec. If you can't catch that, what can you catch besides a cold? I'll post my bet closer to the race. It will be a large exotic wager that I will try to hit cold($100 trifecta, maybe a $20 super with 5x combo underneath for another $100)

05 Jun 2012 9:20 PM

UncleStosh, that's why I look at the 5x pedigree. Union Rags does not have the body of a sprinter, and he is not a closer. Again, look at the 5x pedigree, i.e. within 5 generations.  I give up.

05 Jun 2012 9:34 PM

jamesb, mention of Zenyatta 11 times, one of the greatest horse's of our time, don't you get smart with me and tell me to get over it, you get over it.  We are here to talk about the horses.  Do you have any knowledge about this field of Belmont contenders that you would like to share with us?  Whatever.  

05 Jun 2012 9:40 PM
Rusty Weisner


I'll look forward to your pick, as I agree with your points here.  My main wagers will reflect that:  My trifectas and exactas look like IHA-Paynter-Dullahan, with Paynter favored over Dullahan underneath in more bets and IHA on top in most.  I'll hedge against IHA in some boxes, but I don't anticipate going beyond these three.  If I can find a single elsewhere in the Pick 4 I might play all three in the Belmont leg as a hedge against IHA, too.

Another thing, about pedigree.  Only in the absence of speed and talent is pedigree determinative.  In mediocre fields where the stars haven't shown up, horses like Drosselmeyer or Jazil are logical picks (I picked both).  In this field, who cares if My Adonis or Optimizer have the pedigree, unless you're dead set on one of them in the bottom of exotics.  Since the pedigrees of IHA, Paynter and Dullahan aren't disputed, the fact that they're just better than the rest makes them logical picks.

06 Jun 2012 7:36 AM

Pete, welcome to the blog, Good Luck with your new assignment AND Goold Luck with your Belmont selections.

Jersey Tom: thanks for a breath of fresh air.

Preliminary thoughts:  as usually happens when a horse is gunning for a Triple Crown, the rest of the riders are going to do their best to keep him from it.  The pace will be moderate with a bunched up field.  Watch Javier closely on Dullahan.  With that workout, Dale and Javier will put him in the mix early, as will JV with Union Rags.  I hope Super Mario is taking his lessons well.  The other riders will give him no quarter.  I'll have Another is the best in this field and will become the next Triple Crown winner, only the other jocks or racing luck will stop him.

Will be leaving early Friday for the Belmont.  Will you be there, Pete?  

06 Jun 2012 8:10 AM

Mary, you say that IHA does not have the pedigree for this distance and yet if you look overall at the Classics then you must have noticed that the Mr. Prospector/Raise a Native line has produced the most Classic winners. You tell others not to be so nasty and yet question my ability to read pedigrees. I am nearly 54 years old and have been a pedigree junky since I was ten years old. I know thats young but it was something that truly fascinated me. But remember one thing, the horses don't know their pedigrees and sometimes like John Henry outrun their ancestors.

07 Jun 2012 5:54 PM

Found this very first blog from Pete (already posted my first post Jason blog era) in the 3rd blog.

Anyway, all I can says is "WoW".  LOL @ rout by UR.  I don't know what happened to Ranagulzion, he's the only one left that still believes UR can get the distance.

Look, I'm not a pedigree expert by any means but if someone comes up to me and tells me UR will win the Belmont by a rout, I'd give him a quarter and tell him to give it to someone else who would listen.

IF UR is the great horse you claim, how come he only has a G2 win this year ?  one 3rd in a G1 race and unplaced in his other races.  You call that a great horse ??  You think UR has a shot at winning the Championship this year ?  You're desperate, I mean truly desperate.  When it comes to UR, you're worse than Draynay and no offense but your posts proves it.  I can't believe you're still talking about Hyperion, geez man, what the heck happened to you ??  

Paynter will be on the lead at the top of the stretch (if he runs his race), IHA will be a close second and Street Life will be rolling from midpack.

Thanks Pete!

08 Jun 2012 3:31 AM

Wow how did things get so nasty so fast. People putting down Zenyatta, blasting poor Union Rags for having had bad racing luck with his third in Florida (he was pinned on the rail by another jockey) and bummed and pushed back in the Derby. Union Rags is a very good horse though I myself question whether he can hold on for a win at the mile and ahalf distance but he could. Back when Bold Forbes won the Belmont Stakes many questioned whether he could win at that distance but he was trained brilliantly and ridden even better and I liked him enough to stay with him for that Belmont win. If people think and like the horse well enough then so be it let them choose who they want to choose and hope for the best. Some question Dullahan but I like this horse and believe he can win so that's my choice but I still look at other possibilities so my next 2 picks will be Street Life and My Adonis. Lets see tomorrow who the racing gods bestow the favors on. And in regards to Zenyatta well she truly showed how great she was by losing by not quite a head. She made up I believe almost 20 lengths to come that close to beating Blame who was a very good horse. If Mike Smith would have ridden her better that day she would have retired unbeaten. You know it and I know it. And so does Mike Smith.

08 Jun 2012 3:41 PM

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