Belmont Selections

We taped That Handicapping Show this morning, and I selected Paynter as my key horse in the Belmont Stakes.

I'll Have Another clearly has proven to be the best of this crop. But for gambling purposes, I can't take 4-to-5 on a horse trying a new distance. Additionally, I'll Have Another could be worn down by the first two legs of the Triple Crown. This grueling series is as much a test of a horse's constitution as its ability.

I think Union Rags is a great horse, but so far he has not taken the necessary step forward in the speed figure department at age three. His 2012 races look almost exactly like his two-year-old races from a figure standpoint. He needs a breakthrough performance.

Dullahan also needs to move forward to win this race, or needs others to take a step back. He got a perfect setup in the Kentucky Derby, but he didn't close nearly as fast as he has on turf and synthetic tracks.

Paynter's easy, confidence-building victory in an allowance race on the Preakness undercard was nearly as fast as the Preakness Stakes and faster than Dullahan and Union Rags ever have run.

Paynter is lightly raced and improving, and he figures to get a nice trip pressing a soft pace and then getting first run in the Belmont. By Awesome Again and out of a full sister to Tiznow, Paynter is extremely well-bred.

At 8-1 on the morning line, Paynter looks like the value play of this field.

I am just beginning to dig into the other Saturday races. Feel free to post your picks, and good luck to all.



Leave a Comment:

Rusty Weisner

Hope it's not too gauche of me to repost from the prior thread, but these are my selections...

The fields are a little short, but I'm going to try the Pick 4 with IHA, Paynter and Dullahan in the last leg; hopefully I will thereby have a live hedge going into the Belmont and can bet IHA on top there to my heart's, and wallet's, content.  I'll try three tickets, each with a different single.


In the Just A Game I'm only throwing out the 2, 6 & 7 and I'll single Winter Memories on a ticket.  It's her second start of her 4yo campaign and she should have room in this short field.

In the Woody Stephens I don't like Hierro; I think the slop flattered him, while the opposite is true of Bourbon Courage.  I'll take the three speediest, Trinniberg, Il Villano and Bourbon Courage.   I believe Parboo and think Trinniberg could just smoke the field, so he'll be one of my singles.

In the Manhattan I really like Boisterous and Brilliant Speed, but can't decide between the two, so they'll be my "single".  I think they both want this distance.  For Boisterous, it's his second back on his home track, while for Brilliant Speed you can throw out the last race, where he had no chance against Little Mike that day.  For my other tickets I'll toss in Desert Blanc, Omayad and, reluctantly, Hudson Steele (maybe I'll have the guts to toss him; he's stretching out here and moving up in class).

I'll play a single, cheap late Pick 4 ticket where I single the favorite in the 12th, Deerslayer, hoping he just wires the field from the rail.  

07 Jun 2012 1:16 PM
Rusty Weisner

Pete Denk,

Admirable guts with this pick, as  you will be mocked as a sucker for the wise-guy horse if he doesn't deliver.

You are right on the money about the allowance race.

A few additional points in his favor:  

Anyone who ran competitively in the SA Derby is by definition a good bet.

You can discount his loss to Hierro:  likely bounce and sloppy surface.

Summer Bird, lightly raced, recently won the Belmont.

07 Jun 2012 1:22 PM

Big money will come if IHA runs into a brick wall, which very well can happen on Saturday.  However, I am just looking to cash a ticket!  I will do a $5 exacta with IHA/ Street Life, Atigun, Paynter, Dullahan.

I'll Have Another beat me in both CA races earlier this year, and killed my Pick 3 in the Derby, and I have vowed not to bet against him again!  Barring a Big Brown shoe loose, or Mario falling of the saddle, I see IHA winning without Mario even using the whip.

Good Luck to all!

07 Jun 2012 1:38 PM
Pete Denk


Can't be afraid to be wrong, especially with 8-1 shots that have legit angles.

Good luck with your pick 4s. I loved Brilliant Speed at 7-1 in his last. Was disappointed he didn't kick better in the final 3f. Hav to decide if I am still on board...

07 Jun 2012 1:54 PM

I'll Have Another has not been phased by the first two legs of the Triple Crown.  Look at him after each race....the races took nothing out of him.  Bob Baffert said after Point Given won the Belmont and cooled out in 20 minutes after the race...."The good ones do it easy...Racing takes nothing out of them".  I'll Have Another (IHA) is a good one.  The Derby and Preakness did not tax him like prior dual winners coming to the Belmont for the Triple Crown.  Paynter is showing signs of being a nice horse, but to go 1 1/2 miles in your 4th lifetime start....I think not.  We will have a triple crown winner, and it will be I'll Have Another!!  The horse is galloping faster than other horses work, and his trainer is putting nothing but stamina building gallops into this horse.  Paynter is talented, but he is not in the same league as IHA, not yet, maybe not ever.

07 Jun 2012 2:43 PM
Rusty Weisner

I'll also keep Currency Swap.

07 Jun 2012 2:43 PM

In my opinion, and I have been wrong more than right (except this Triple Crown season), there are only two horses that can win:  I'll Have Another and Paynter.  And I don't think Paynter will win. IHA aint no allowance horse that Paynter can dominate.

I'll Have Another, Paynter, Dullahan, Five Sixteen in that order. Expect IHA to win by daylight.

Union Rags doesn't belong in this race (neither do about 6 other horses).  I don't understand why UR is running.  This race has the potential to ruin him and I think he would be a great horse in races from 7 to 9 furlongs.

Pete, I have enjoyed your first three blogs.

07 Jun 2012 2:49 PM
Rusty Weisner

Pete Denk,

Amen.  Stay strong. It's a betting game, not a "rooting" game...except when the TC is on the line, where there's a human inclination to succumb to excitement and sentiment.  I'll try to resist it, but I still think IHA is a likelier winner and Point Given and Afleet Alex have shown that horses can still complete the whole TC series and finish strong.  Regardless, I think Paynter's a better bet than Dullahan or UR and one of only three I can see winning.

Re: Brilliant Speed.  No one kicked in that race, which knocked me off nearly all of my Derby tickets.  To his credit, Brilliant Speed beat two turf horses better on paper there:  Turallure and Doubles Partner.  I'm surprised Hudson Steele is the ML favorite -- I don't get it, but I hope it stays that way.

07 Jun 2012 2:59 PM
Rusty Weisner

Paynter makes for a good spoiler narrative, carrying the spirit of Baffert and Bodemeister with him.  I hope he holds on for that exacta!

07 Jun 2012 3:06 PM
Rusty Weisner


That's my trifecta and my exacta.  I won't venture into the super on this one.

07 Jun 2012 3:24 PM
Rusty Weisner

In the 12th I'll have to decide between Deerslayer, on the rail and going back to 6f, and Count Catamount, who is the class, is dropping, and has a significant weight allowance vs. the former, who's getting more weight this time out.  Both with the same trainer; he's got to win with one of them.  Maybe I'll take both.  This would be an inexpensive Pick 4, with Boisterous/Brilliant Speed in the first leg, IHA/Paynter/Dullahan in the second, and five horses in the 13th, the last leg.

07 Jun 2012 4:31 PM
Rolling Thundar

You know Pete, sometimes some of the people that are pretty regular on this blog site, really give some good indepth Analisis of their picks for up coming races...

And then there are others, who just ramble on and on and on, blah blah blah, and they never hit the boards with their picks...

And then We have a few like myself, who most would just consider a rookie, and the picks that I make, and win with, is just beginner's Luck...

Well I would rather be Lucky and cash those tickets, than to be a Professional Handicapper that is broke...

So here's my Lucky Guess for the Belmont... Ex, I'll Have Another/Paynter..

Tri, IHA/Paynter/Street Life.

Super, IHA/Pytr/SL/Dullahan…

And I too, think you are really on track with your blog Pete.

07 Jun 2012 6:44 PM

Enjoying your blogs Pete!  I'm sticking with I'll Have Another for the win.  I am not too sure about the rest but if I were betting I would go with Dullahan second and I am giving a shot to Optimizer for third.  

07 Jun 2012 8:06 PM
Minnesota Kid

Here is my obligatory, all-graded-stakes, $1 pick four ticket.

All/#6/All/#9 = $56 ticket.

As you might be able to guess from this play, I consider turf races to be a genuine weakness in my handicapping game.

Does anyone have any singles in either of the grass races?

Please help.

07 Jun 2012 8:23 PM
Paula Higgins

I'll Have Another, Union Rags, and Dullahan in that order. Paynter is the one who could upset the whole thing. Any time Baffert has a horse in the mix, anything is possible and often is. I am one of those who thinks if you didn't race in any one of the other two legs of the Triple Crown, you shouldn't be able to race in the Belmont. It gives a fresh horse an unfair advantage to ruin the chances of a horse who stepped up to beat the field in two of the biggest races of the year.

07 Jun 2012 8:38 PM

Drawing post 11 is not a blessing. That being said, there is a chance that Garcia can surge to the lead at the right time........but he still may need 2 or even 3 moves to win this race......his "surges" must be steady and disciplined......patience,is indeed,a virtue......the belmont stretch is can almost see Yonkers on the horizon!

...and I'm from Chicago!!!!!!!

07 Jun 2012 8:44 PM

Dr. Peter D.

   You must be an Arlington/Balmoral enthusiast!...good for place I'd rather be in the summertime...except for Belmont on Saturday.

   Good luck with your picks. I'll probably box 1-2-11...exacta.....and hope for the best!

07 Jun 2012 8:48 PM

If I'll Have Another can shake off fatigue, edge out the fresh ponies, and carry his rookie rider to the finish line first. He should receive horse of the year honors, hands down. He has a huge task before him. If MY OWN horse were running in the Belmont, I'd still be rooting for IHA, win this one "Red".

07 Jun 2012 9:01 PM
Rolling Thundar

Paula.......Come'On MAN...

You don't really believe that do You?..........

That no Horse should be able to enter the Belmont if they didn't run in either of the previous two races of the Crown? That would leave us with a four horse Match race......

Like you I believe that IHA will win this Crown.......

But you can't deny horses from running just because they didn't run in the first two legs......

And besides, Paynter is only as fresh as IHA, running back in three weeks. He ran on Preakness Day.

And Race tracks always have the Local Preps, Like the Peter Pan, for horses to Qualify into the Race. I was suprised that Mark Velesky Passed on getting a piece of the prize.

07 Jun 2012 9:06 PM
Rolling Thundar

Hey Pete......

I just read the Article by James Scully from Brisnet...

Why does Blood Horse let people like have his say on BH's website, when he doesn't even allow other to post comments about his choices...That's just Scum.....

But what I really think, is that He is an Idiot willing to throw his money down the drain.....

07 Jun 2012 9:14 PM
Pete Denk

Easy on the name calling Rolling Thunder...

As far as I am concerned, comments should be allowed on all Internet stories.

If I read a piece I disagree with, and it does not allow comments, I figure the author is afraid of criticism and/or doesn't want to give dissenting opinions a voice.

07 Jun 2012 9:53 PM
Rolling Thundar

I agree with You Pete, If they can't be open with comments, they Just can't take the Heat....

And then they Lose any Crediablity for what they have to say.....

Thanks for Standing Up, and LETTING Me Know, to Turn it Down a notch or two on the Criticism of Others.........

You must have Been Warned about the Players Here though....We Are a Bad Bunch Buddy........So we will Push You to See what You will accept, and what You wont......

It won't get any easier. That's a fact......

So Boundry's will get Tested....And What You will Accept will get Tested......

It's One thing to Admonish a Poster for inappropriate Language...It's another to become Decon, or Dictator of Ones own blog......Be in-between my friend...And Moderate....Just and Fairly.....RT.

07 Jun 2012 10:32 PM

All bet in.. Triple Crown Mania.. will I'll Have Another have another? if he does the price is not worth a bet a heavy chalk favorite.. distance will be his enemy plus you have Paynter to deal with and this is no Bodiemester at least this one will put a fight just enough to burn out the chalk.. maybe Paynter worth betting just for show. the favorite might win but which one? it could be Have Another or the real favorite on KY Derby.. Tip: never back up a trainer with violation..ring a bell?

08 Jun 2012 1:43 AM

Saw your first THS with Tom, welcome to Bloodhorse and thanks for giving us a blog to go to :)

I'm sticking with IHA and Street Life, but I'm starting to look at Paynter seriously.  I just saw his pedigree prior to finding this blog and I must agree, with Awesome Again and Tiznow in his blood, I think he's the the one that could ruin IHA's triple crown bid.  I hope IHA wins though, I think he's worthy and deserving of it.   Good luck and again, welcome to Bloodhorse :)

08 Jun 2012 3:14 AM

I'll Have Another to win the Triple Crown and by daylight.  Will box him though with Dullahan, Street Life and Paynter in ex and tri and put down a $2 across the board on I'll Have Another for my keepsake ticket.  Union Rags will not get in the money and the 3 hole will be to his disadvantage.

Thanks for your articles, Pete.  I enjoy your straight talk.

We're leaving in an hour for Belmont Park to be part of racing history (I hope).  

Goold Luck to all!  

08 Jun 2012 6:25 AM

I’ll Have Another is the best horse in the Belmont. But there is one rule I never violate-never back a horse drawn wide in a 2-turn race. If you feel that horse is best, just have a beer and watch the race.

08 Jun 2012 8:27 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Pete Denk

   Absolutely- "Can't be afraid to be wrong" is possibly the number one rule in horse race handicapping, picking and betting.

08 Jun 2012 8:37 AM

trackjack, have fun, be safe, and cash some tickets

08 Jun 2012 8:42 AM
JJs Rocket

As a fan I sure hope that I'll Have Another can win this race. As someone that bets on these races, I will have to try to beat him. To set the record straight I have picked Bode for the first two legs so Im batting zero so far this year. Did win both times but that is because I'll Have Another was my fathers favorite so included him on most tickets.

My feelings is that Doug his trainer is worried for the first time in this series. Everything has been flawless for months. I'll Have Another might of peaked and will show a slight regression in this race. My reasoning is that his gallops since last Sunday are not quite as good. He has slowed down a little when you let the horse put his feet where he wants too. Yesterday for the first time in months the jockey moved his hands slightly to get more during the gallop. I believe Doug is a good trainer and that is why he backed off today. I know this is all conjucture on my part but that is why they have the windows to bet the race.

Dullahan will win the race because for some reason he loves the Belmont dirt. He travels over it easily and very fast. He loved Keenland syn and liked CD dirt but loves the Belmont sand. For this reason he will win this race. My money will be bet on Dullahn but I will be screaming for I'LL Have Another to make history. Lets hope I will be wrong for the third time in a row. After all it is the most likely outcome when im batting zero so far for this TC.

08 Jun 2012 9:02 AM

Well I don.t understand a few comments here why doesn't Union Rags belong here? He is probably the strongest bred horse on his mothers side, he absolutely got destroyed in derby I was sitting at 1/8 th pole third floor when they ran by first time, you can't win derby at start but you sure can lose it, he was eliminated, the really only two horse that had clean trips ended up 1-2,I love IHA he will win Belmont,but it will be differernt , no bodemeister Mike smith got caught on a one dimensional horse, Mario will have to make some decisions this time, do I go do i sit, John V will have UR go where ever IHA goes, those three 50-1 shots may be a problem for someone, I can see why they are running them thought they couldn't of go this much publiccity if they bought the back page of NYTimes, they may be a part of history, hopefully IHA will prevail, he will be ready willing and able

08 Jun 2012 9:38 AM
Pedigree Ann


Horses who don't race in the Derby and Preakness have ALWAYS been entered in the Belmont. The reason we can't backdate the current Triple Crown past 1919 (which is at least a decade too early) is that the races were considered as separate, good races, not a series. (This began in the 1930s.)

The races did not a common nominating or supplemental structure until the 1980s. Until that time, Derby runners had to be nominated by the end of January (or December in an earlier time), no supplementals. Some very nice horses didn't run in the Derby because they didn't look like Derby material until later in the spring. The other two races had later nominating times and supplemental nominations as well in the last few decades before unification.

Also, since the Belmont was consciously modeled on The Derby, geldings were not allowed to run until unification of nominations.

IMHO, the horse who have been through the Triple Crown will be the only ones who are truly fit. You know that the Preakness was only a week after the Derby, with a train-ride in between, when Citation won his Triple. "Freshness" is highly overrated for horses in top-class distance races.

08 Jun 2012 9:43 AM
Rusty Weisner


Take my "help" with a grain of salt.  The road to your ruin may be paved with my good intentions.

I wouldn't change your ticket at all if you feel strongly about Trinniberg.  Judging by the workouts and his trainer's frank comments I don't think Trinniberg was abused in the Derby, but I'm a little leery of him just because the Derby just usually ruins overmatched, speedy horses that run there.  His positives are obvious:  he's the fastest, and 7 furlongs is no problem.  My longshot here is the 6 furlong horse, Il Villano.

Nonetheless...Winter Memories is an obvious single, but will be even money.  She's athletic (watch the Garden City replay or the replay of her last), and won't have the problem she seems of getting bottled up in this short field.  It's her second start of her 4yo campaign (like others here), when turf horses really seem to make their biggest improvements.  Too obvious a pick, though.  Sylvestris and Dancinginherdreams are the ones I'm tossing, but they'll be such long odds don't keep them off your ticket because of me.

A little less obvious is the Manhattan, but I feel stronger that it will be either Boisterous or Brilliant Speed.  The former is a horse for the course and in his second back is coming back up to 1 1/4, at which he's 2 for 2.  Brilliant Speed wants the longer distance, too.  In his last the winner got the jump on everyone and the rest of the field did nothing; strike it.  Don't like Al Khali -- more competitive at marathon distance and is 6yo, hasn't won a stakes in 2 years, and has probably lost a step.  Omayad and Desert Blanc are young outsiders I will put on a ticket, Hudson Steele is a morning line underlay (hasn't gone this distance yet, moving up in class, overbet trainer), Top Surprize is outmatched.  I liked Papaw Bodie a little bit at long odds in his last.  I didn't like him this time, but on second glance I might toss him in one of my tickets -- he's greatly improved since Maker claimed him, has been run in the right spots, has an excuse his last out and will be up closer to the pace this time where he's shown he can run, has won at Belmont, should be longer than the ML 8-1, and this is a weak Manhattan.

Now someone help me.

08 Jun 2012 10:25 AM
Mike from Michigan

I haven't felt this good about the belmont since 'Bet Twice' won in '87.  I had him then and I'm feeling great about Dullahan this year.  I think Dullahan will put on an amazing performance.

08 Jun 2012 10:41 AM
Rusty Weisner

Does the 11 post make a difference in a 1 1/2 race at Belmont?  In a shorter route race, sure.

08 Jun 2012 10:53 AM
Rusty Weisner

Speaking of Manhattans, why did they invent idiotic drinks like the White Carnation or the Belmont Breeze when they could have just adopted this classic?  There's even a nearby Rye, New York.

08 Jun 2012 11:12 AM
Rusty Weisner


That's a good point about the 3 post for UR.  I thought he was doomed with the 4 in the Derby and am still kicking myself I threw him in any tickets at all.  Do you think the 11 matters for IHA at this distance?

08 Jun 2012 11:17 AM
Pete Denk

I'll Have Another is out guys. Tendon issue...

08 Jun 2012 11:30 AM
Rusty Weisner

JJ's Rocket,

You are the winner of this blog.  Boy, you were right.

08 Jun 2012 11:51 AM
Rusty Weisner

Maybe I'm jaded and/or paranoid, but when I heard about the special regime for O'Neill and the security/stakes barn I said to myself, uh oh, what might be the pretext for him not to run.

At least we won't have another Big Brown.

08 Jun 2012 11:58 AM
Karen in Texas

Rusty Weisner---No, we won't have another Big Brown; not that there has ever been a conclusive reason given for what occurred on that Belmont day. IHA is a far different story. "Pretext" for him not to run--meaning what? When I was in clinical training we called "tendonitis" a diagnosis, and that is what he was given this morning. It is fortunate that we now have ultra-sound and nuclear scanning technologies to find and dx. these soft tissue injuries before permanent damage and/or breakdowns happen. I don't know the exact device they used today, but am linking pictures to demonstrate how obvious damage can be with the right equipment. I believe the 12th frame illustrates a tendon inflammation.

08 Jun 2012 2:01 PM
Karen in Texas
08 Jun 2012 2:05 PM

Sad news about I’ll Have Another.

I believe a trainer always pursues what he regards as the right course with his horse.

When a trainer puts his horse through light training leading up to a big race, I take it that he is pursuing the right course with the horse as he sees it. However, the implications can be positive or negative and I am not talking about I’ll Have Another.

08 Jun 2012 2:33 PM

Rusty Weisner - enjoy your posts but think you are off on the detention barn/pretext issue.  Unfortunately, the mainstream media treats Doug O'Neill the same way as Rick Dutrow when O'Neill is nothing like him.

08 Jun 2012 2:33 PM
Rusty Weisner

2:24, Karen in Texas --

Both your posts assuage my suspicions.  The thought crossed my mind, though, no denying it.

For the horse and the casual fans I'm glad the horse won't run and disappoint, or come up lame.  For heartless bettors I'm glad he won't finish up the track like Big Brown, and for me I'm disappointed but selfishly relieved I won't be throwing money at him -- kudos again to the perceptive JJ's Rocket up above.  I think his observations eliminate suspicion as much as any others I've seen.

08 Jun 2012 3:03 PM
Rusty Weisner

Pete Denk,

I didn't include your 12 in the 13th...because I forgot to look at the last page!  However, I'm pretty sure the post is a real liability for him at this distance.  I'll take him, though, as I'm going wide in this race (1,2,3,5,6,9,12).  A long, long longshot I'll add here is the 3:  quirky running lines only two times he's tried turf; maybe he'll figure it out.

Any thoughts on the 12th?  I can't get past the 1 and the 9.

08 Jun 2012 3:12 PM
Rusty Weisner

Another thing I like about Boisterous:  he can win off the pace in short fields.

08 Jun 2012 3:14 PM

Now he's retired!!!!!!!

What the h - e - double hockey sticks is going on?  Did anyone have any clue about this?

As we say in our family when this kind of stuff happens, "what a freggatura!!!"


(I liked Dullahan but not like this)

08 Jun 2012 4:30 PM
Rusty Weisner

AlarmedNDangerous is a potential single in the last race.  Had the 11th post and a bad trip last out, while the one before that was an obstacle course.  He finished strong in both and this time he's in the 5 post and Linda Rice has put blinkers on him.

I'm not singling Trinniberg.  Something's just not right about it.

Good luck, everyone.

08 Jun 2012 4:31 PM
Paula Higgins

Pedigree Ann, yes I know they have always raced whether in the first two legs or not. But now, where stamina is a thing of the past, I think freshness matters with some horses. Top class horses are still having issues with stamina. They are breeding for speed. Maybe that will change. Lets face it, they don't race them nearly as much as they used to, and there is a reason. Somehow there is a happy medium from the old days and now. I appreciate your taking the time to respond to me. O.k. this is a bummer. A tendon. Of course they are doing the right thing but I can't help but wish for an Iron Horse. One that can withstand the rigors of racing and training and keep on going. I want a male Zenyatta. I think Curlin is as close as we are going to get for awhile. mz, I laughed out loud at your post. I am part Italian too, but that is new one for me. O.k. I am picking Union Rags for Michael Matz and yes, I know there is nothing to indicate he is going to pull it off if you look at his last races. Probably Dullahan instead but I am going with my heart.

08 Jun 2012 6:15 PM

6 Ravelo's Boy will get the best ride, by the best pace jockey in the business, Solis, and will be on all my tickets, along with Dullahan, Paynter and Union Rags.

08 Jun 2012 8:45 PM

DARN! i really wanted to beat that horse.....was gonna bet big on liking union rags too.......not gonna bet this one...

08 Jun 2012 8:46 PM
Rolling Thundar

Hey Pete.....Are you sure this isn't the Rusty Weisner Blog you are Moderating?.....Blah, Blah, Blah.........

So Now that we are All dissapointed that IHA has been Scratched.........It makes for a better Wagering Experience......

I'll box my Picks, with the Added Un Stoppable U, in the Super.....

09 Jun 2012 12:25 AM
Pedigree Ann

Re: retirement

'"It is still a relatively minor injury," said Bramlage, who did not examine the horse himself but did consult with trainer Doug O’Neill’s veterinarian Dr. Jim Hunt. "This is a slow-healing injury; he could take a year to fully recover. Because he is a stallion prospect, that could hurt his value. If he was a gelding, he would have likely made a come-back."'

That is the calculus these days - a horse can make more money as a stallion than as a racehorse. Used to be the opposite - racing was how a horse made money and the breeding career was a minor bonus.

Majestic Prince shouldn't have run in his Belmont; his trainer was against it because he saw the beginnings of a problem but the owner prevailed. He ran second, was injured in the race, and never raced again. So he was retired.  

09 Jun 2012 8:03 AM
Point Given

Jay Jay it is not too late to change your mind and jump on Paynter's wagon to complete the TC run for the Cali based horses.

09 Jun 2012 9:16 AM

I'll Have Another scratched.  Is this going to be known as the "Peter Denk Curse". Just kidding!

I like Street Life today and love Utopian in the Whittingham.  

Good luck to all!

09 Jun 2012 9:26 AM


Thanks, will do. Nothing better than being at the track.

Will play Dullahan W/P and box him with Street Life, Paynter, Union Rags for ex and tri.

Will sing NY/NY at the top of my lungs.

Goold Luck to all!

09 Jun 2012 11:03 AM

Was gonna stay out, but just bet 500 win on dullahan......3 to 1? youve got to be joking...i thought he'd be lower....knew the excuse horse would be bet heavily prediction dullahan wins by 8 to 15

09 Jun 2012 4:25 PM

2:24 is an idiot.

09 Jun 2012 6:48 PM
Paula Higgins

Woohoo! Union Rags won! I am so happy for Michael Matz and Phyllis. Union Rags showed his 2 year old form. He's back, no doubt about it. I have a feeling IHA would have had his hands full trying to beat him if he had been in the race. That was impressive. I think Mike Smith did a great job with Paynter, clearly a very good horse himself. At least Baffert has been in the money 3 times in a row. Congrats to all Union Rags connections. I am thrilled for Michael Matz, a horseman's horseman. The California horses have done themselves proud. Good to see.

09 Jun 2012 6:57 PM
Pete Denk

I thought 4-1 was good value on Paynter. Not crazy about Mike Smith's ride. But I love Union Rags. He is a deserving winner. Good race. I'm live to 1,9/1,2,5,6,12 in late p4.

09 Jun 2012 7:15 PM

Baffert should never let Mike Smith ride Bodemeister or Paynter again.  That ride today was so suspicious that it was probably honest.  But congrats to the winner and Matz, true class.

09 Jun 2012 7:52 PM
Karen in Texas

After all the NYRA/SRWB and stakes/detention barn drama this week, culminating with IHA's injury and withdrawal, I really no longer had a favorite for this Belmont. I am happy for Michael Matz and think John Velazquez probably did make a difference as a jockey. It is difficult to feel badly for someone as accomplished as Baffert, but three second place finishes in a row for the same owner has to be sobering. Over all, as Paula noted, the California horses have done quite well in this Triple Crown series. I'm now looking forward to the Swaps, Travers, Haskell, etc. Ranagulzion, are you rejoicing to the strains of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus wherever you are?

09 Jun 2012 7:57 PM
Paula Higgins

O.k. Pete and Derblin, I get your points. Mike let Union Rags in on the rail. However, he did slow the pace down to give him a chance. But you are right and this is where being a newbie comes in for me. I am sure Baffert is not happy and I am sure Mike Smith knows it.

09 Jun 2012 8:31 PM
Paula Higgins

Karen in Texas, I think Ranagulzion is eating some crow tonite LOL!

09 Jun 2012 8:31 PM

I am waiting for the late summer races also but more for the Breeders Cup at Santa Anita.  Let's see how the easterners fare on that dirt.  Hope you can redeem yourself, Mike Smith.  That is if you still have a mount on one of those very good second place finishers.

09 Jun 2012 8:32 PM
Pete Denk


The overhead view of the stretch run on NBC made two things abundantly clear:

1) Julien Leparoux on Atigun was NOT letting Union Rags out.

2) Paynter wins the Belmont if he doesn't drift off the rail.

To his credit, Mike Smith admitted his mistake and took full blame.

09 Jun 2012 9:40 PM

I heard about him taking full blame just like when he lost on Zenyatta and other big rides.  Glad he was able to win one KY Derby after how many good mounts through the years?  I truly would like to see him redeem himself. He is a Hall of Famer but not in Triple Crown races.

09 Jun 2012 10:03 PM

Ha I told you so! Just like ranag, rags was the best

09 Jun 2012 10:07 PM

That was a nice tri

09 Jun 2012 10:08 PM

Karen in Texas,

Believe you me, I shouted Hallelujah! when I saw Johnny V, like Moses in the Ten Commandmenmts, driving Union Rags through that "parting of the red sea" on the rails. For a moment before the rails opened up I thought "oh no, U/Rags boxed in? ... not again" then, as if by Divine intervention, Mike Smith went to the left hand stick on Paynter and a brave Johnny V (what a great rider) went for the "hole" guiding a fit and willing Union Rags through to victory. Amen. Totally exhilarating.

I wonder how the bashers of the deceased stallion Dixie Union and his imposing son, Union Rags' pedigree with their infantile analyses are going to explain themselves.

Karen, I get the feeling that you've recovered from the disappointment of IHA's injury and retirement (without racing in the Belmont). He has quite a formidable lead in the race for 3YO championship honours but there is ample time for Union Rags to make a solid challenge. I would like to see U/Rags cop the award as I still believe that his overall body of work was more desrving of the 2YO championship than Hansen last year.

Paula Higgins,

I'm done with eating crow. Its vindication time. I could name a few bloggers who have plate loads of crow to eat after seeing Union Rags storm to victory and gallop out with distinction, completely shattering the myth that Dixie Union couldn't throw a stayer beyond nine furlongs. I wonder where is Carlos in Cali, jay jay, 2:24, predict and El Kabong (LOL).

I'm also looking forward to Allan Porter's spin on how a Dixie Union colt out of a Gone West mare could relish a Grade one, mile and a half race.

Pedigree Ann,

Lets hear your take my dear. The Amazombie rebuttal against the Hyperion factor sounded plausible but upon closer examination of that one's pedigree, there was no comparison. In Amazombie's case the Hyperion factor seemed to be neutralized by all the speed and moderate-quality influences close up ...not so with Union Rags.

Anyway I always appreciate your thoughtful and astute responses to matters of pedigree and thoroughbred racing history.


It safe to come out now and root for your "Terpschorist angle" on U'Rags' stamina (LOL). You got it right.  

09 Jun 2012 11:13 PM
Karen in Texas

Ranagul----I read that Matz gave credit to Terpsichorist today in a post race interview on Brisnet. Ironic, given the previous discussion on this blog. To be fair, it was El Kabong who first suggested the Terpsichorist connection way back in February on Jason's "Can't Miss Weekend" blog, and apparently few were paying attention. Others followed suit later. I know you are elated over this UR win and there is indeed much racing to come between now and year-end honors time. If only they all stay safe and injury free!

10 Jun 2012 12:11 AM
Paula Higgins

Woops, I'm bad. Ranagulzion, I thought you were one of the ones who didn't think Union Rags could win at that distance. Sorry. My memory isn't what it used to be. Can't wait for the rest of the season and the Breeders Cup Classic. Horse of the Year could get interesting for the third year in a row. As for Mike Smith, he is one of the few that admits his mistakes publicly. I like him all the more for it. But here is the other side of that coin, Paynter didn't have to let Union Rags by. The better horse won.

10 Jun 2012 12:15 AM
Minnesota Kid

Mike Smith is a great jockey, a no-doubt-about-it Hall of Famer, and yet........ if you can stomach it, watch the 1998 race at Saratoga where Mr. Smith nearly buys the proverbial farm---who could blame him for not exactly hugging the rail over the past 14 years.

I say this as a big fan of Mike Smith--I have very positive memories of him at Canterbury Downs (now Park) in the late eighties--he doesn't get too aggressive w/ shooting or holding the rail--not since '98 anyway.

By the way, I am not bitter at all, since my posted pick 4 play was all w/ #6 w/ all w/ #9.

Not bitter at all.

10 Jun 2012 1:20 AM

Ranagulzion : I just finished two bowls of crow o'noodles and I'll Have Another please.  Congrats on your horse winning the Belmont!

UR will now have to show this is not a fluke.  He was the only one that actually ran other than Atigun and Paynter and those two pretty much walked home.  Having watched that race, I'm fairly certain we would've had a TC winner if IHA didn't get hurt.  It just wasn't meant to be.

I don't know if UR proved anything with this race.  I'd like to see him try the Travers, the only race left at 10F before the Breeder's Cup Classic.  Let's see how he does with the real boys.

KY Vet : At least you finally had the guts to post your pick, too bad it cost you 5 big ones.

10 Jun 2012 3:51 AM

"1) Julien Leparoux on Atigun was NOT letting Union Rags out.

2) Paynter wins the Belmont if he doesn't drift off the rail.

To his credit, Mike Smith admitted his mistake and took full blame." -Pete D.

Paynter was still outrun to the wire, no matter how you slice it. I am sure Hard Spun could have won the 2007 Derby had they sealed the rail on that turn where that race is won or lost. But they did not. Did that cheapen SS's victory any? Remember? The Derby is won on the turn and to the eighth pole usually. The Belmont is usually won from the eighth pole to the wire. Ask Kent D on Real Quiet...

Maybe it was a tactical mistake, but it was not Smith's fault. He could not see UR sitting behind him but he felt Atigun and saw him over his right shoulder. Johnny V said there was no way Mike Smith could see him when Atigun first came up on him. UR was behind Smith.

A jockey with a game horse protecting the lead on the inside would be remiss if he did not go to the left whip the second he felt the horse Atigun coming to his outside. That is horseracing 101 and any jockey will tell you that. Smith went to the left lead to make sure Paynter engaged Atigun and by that time Johnny V and UR were starting to go through.

I thought it was a gutsy move by horse and jock and there was no question UR was stronger at the end. It happens. Smith is just crestfallen as he should be. However, that was a speed favoring track this weekend where horses were going wire to wire or winning up front all day.

I thought UR ran a good race and is a very nice horse. Those who kept carping about Dixie Union never obviously understood that a horse gets a large part of his stamina underneath...and underneath UR had a strong tail line, his second dam was by one of the greatest racehorses of all time (Nijinski, the last horse to win the Eng. triple crown and the only horse to ever sire a Derby and Epsom Darby winner in the same year). And, of course, Gone West (damsire) was the sire of Commendable...who won the Belmont Stakes.

The best horse won. And BTW, a very good ride on Atigun by Julien. Too bad he could not keep UR out of trouble or have better racing luck.

And 26 and change is not crawling home for the final 2 furlongs. Its what they usually do these past few years. And, don't forget, Johnny said he never even asked UR for all of his run until they went through the hole. He saved him and took that chance...

I thought it said alot about the jockey and the horse.

I thought the horse Paynter ran very well and game...but, if you are on the lead through 1:38 and change and 2:04 and need to close the door on the rail to win on that speed favoring front runners paridise...well, maybe UR won for a reason. The race was slow because the pace was slow...IMO

Why cheapen the victory by saying Smith lost it? The better horse won. Had Atigun not shut Johnny V from going outside, UR wins by at least 2 lengths IMO. Instead, they had to wait and wait and then go...

The better question is, what happened to Dullahan, why was he so far back, and what was with the big move so early on the second turn? It was obvious only a few horses here had a prayer at 12f, so what happened to D?

10 Jun 2012 5:59 AM

"UR will now have to show this is not a fluke.  He was the only one that actually ran other than Atigun and Paynter and those two pretty much walked home.  Having watched that race, I'm fairly certain we would've had a TC winner if IHA didn't get hurt.  It just wasn't meant to be."

Actually, Jay Jay, the slow final time was a byproduct of the pace set by Paynter up to 10f. The final two furlongs in the Belmont Stakes were actually run in 26.03 compared with the final two in the Derby which were 26.64 and two furlongs shorter and a wicked pace to close into.

So, we have no idea what IHA would have done here...IMO.

10 Jun 2012 8:50 AM

Thank you Geronimo for so patiently explaining the last few strides in that race. To some, however, it sure looked like SMith was making a hole for UR by whipping Paynter left handed.

After the Derby ticket fiasco this year, the trainer under scrutiny, NY's poor security plans, and then seeing what appeared to be some race fixing yesterday, I thank you for setting me straight on my last point.  I guess after following the sport for 50+ yrs, I can kinda feel good about it again.

10 Jun 2012 8:58 AM

Geronimo 2123.....Great post! I tired of hearing Mike Smith Wine after races. His.... I am to blame attitude is tiring! So you let UR thru on the what. If you had the better horse you would have still won! UR was just better. If he hadn't been bottled up AGAIN for most of the race, he probably wins by six...Easy!

10 Jun 2012 11:39 AM

I was wrong, boy was I wrong about Union Rags. Never believed he would get a distance of ground. Congratulations to those who always believed, you were right, and I was wrong. In light of all that happened leading up to this Belmont, it was still an excellent race and a thrill to watch; I will go now and have my breakfast, a box of Crow flakes is waiting.

10 Jun 2012 11:40 AM
El Kabong


I had to rent lift to get my droopy drawers up to a position where I could walk again.

You could have, and may still thrash me for my insolence towards Union Rags. I deserve it. Especially since I did, as Karen in Tx mentions know that the breeding was there on his dam side. I just didn't see that it had transferred. But he proved to be a mamas boy after all and looked good doing it. Time was not anything great but  he looked like he could have run another lap. Your unwavering support of this guy, and Mary and few others was justly rewarded. Congrats. Now if you don't mind I'm going to get back to sweeping up my losing tickets!

10 Jun 2012 11:41 AM

Ranagulzion:  pretty certain I ate crow with my post wherein I called myself an idiot.

10 Jun 2012 12:49 PM
El Kabong


Try this. It helps alleviate bad handicapping that results in a ticker tape parade of losing tickets.

Rubbermaid Impact 2602 Black Plastic Lobby Dust Pan with "L" Grip PVC Handle, 32" Height x 12" Width x 11" Depth.

10 Jun 2012 1:06 PM

Johnny Velasquez deserves a lot of credit for that ride on Union Rags. The saying goes that "fortune favours the brave" therefore that fortuitous opening on the rails in the final furlong was not just good luck but a tribute to a great jockey and a much maligned colt.

Now the remainder of the racing season will be even more interesting.

Trainer Michael Matz is a much underrated conditioner ...and a gentleman. Congratulations to all the connections.

10 Jun 2012 1:38 PM


I wouldn't call you an idiot for your opinion but you should begin to feel a little better with an added plate full of crow (LOL).

10 Jun 2012 1:42 PM
Karen in Texas

I'm seeing reports that the BSF is another 95. Pete, can you comment on this? Is it a function of the slow pace? Anyone?

10 Jun 2012 4:10 PM

jay jay,

I encourage you to read Geronimo2123's post : 10 Jun 2012 8:50 AM. It is an excellent analysis of the final quarter splits, comparing Union Rags' to I'll Have Another's in the Derby. As in your pedigree conclusion, you need a bit more sophistication or more of a learning posture before hardening your positions.  

10 Jun 2012 4:30 PM

Ranagulzion :  I'm good with sophistication and learning posture.  I learn things from Footlick and Pedigree Ann's posts.  I think I'll stick to my story that your theory of Hyperion being the key to UR's ability to stay 12f is ridiculous.  I think Footlick already informed you how much influence genes from 7 generations back has on today's horses.  You had UR right in the Belmont but any of your "analysis" about this horse was wrong IMO and I think it was all out of your obsession about trying to be the one  to pick a TC winner which didn't pan out. :)

I was the one that said Johnny V was the right jockey for this, I said that Matz should've bribed JV to ride him in the Derby and he would've had a chance.  You wanted Prado, and that Hyperion thingamajig.

I also said that UR's chance of winning the championship will be if IHA never wins a race again this year.  He has a good chance now specially that they'll probably shorten him back to 9F or less.  Like I said, if they go to the Travers and win, I'll back him up in the BC Classic.  Unless of course the Travers field becomes an allowance field again.

Geronimo2123 : I think you missed IHA's previous races, this horse can adapt, he's a smart horse.  I don't think pace matters to this horse.  It doesn't matter who he races, and that's already a fact as he's already proven it in the KDerby and Preakness.  I still believe that he would've blown away this field.  UR would've been a distant 2nd.  It's all speculation now anyway and I'm not trying to take anything away from UR but seriously, tell me what you think of the Belmont field without having to listen to Ranagulzion who thinks this is the best of the best.

10 Jun 2012 5:27 PM
El Kabong

Jay Jay,

The first thing out of my mouth after I saw that time, was IHA would have waltzed home even with a sore tendon. Error on the side of caution and I know O'Neil and Reddam were giving each other the damn it all to hell look, but they are classy horsemen for doing what they did. End of story. UR is the Belmont champ and lets see how he does in the summer series. Jury is out. I've got reservations for the BC in November and I want talent! Let'em run.  

10 Jun 2012 8:43 PM

jay jay,

Your speculation about IHA in the Belmont is what it is, pure speculation and denial of sound pace analysis presented by Geronimo2123.

You continue to berate the Classic winner Union Rags and the field which also included another Grade one winner Dullahan to save face ...I get you. You should be aware that both Bob Baffert and Zayat regard Paynter as better than Bodemeister.

10 Jun 2012 9:39 PM

Ranagulzion: I seriously don't know what happened to you.  You have lost all sense of logic when it comes to Union Rags.  It's like unless I proclaim him the greatest horse in the history of thoroughbred racing,  you won't be happy.

I've never berated this horse, you read what you want to read from my posts.  Like I said, I know this horse more than you do.  I'm not trying to save face.  I call it what it is.  I don't need to save face, because I know who ran in the Belmont.  UR has a LOT to prove.

Now, if you can please post and quote me where you saw me berate this horse, I'd appreciate it.  I'm not like you, i won't berate any horses or any other people's picks if they tell me why they pick the horse.  My issue with your "adoration" of UR is that you posted nonsense like he'll win the Triple Crown and you guaranteed it.  This even before the Kentucky Derby.  I questioned it and you responded with even more nonsense wiht that Hyperion theory.  You were wrong about the TC winner, and you got it barely right with the Belmont win.

I don't use the form for any handicapping, that's something that pretty much everyone knows so when I'm handicapping a big race, I rely on videos.  I watched all of UR's races, and I'm comfortable in saying that I do know this horse more than you do.  I said he will not win the Florida or the Kentucky derby, I was right.  I said that Johnny V is the best jockey for this horse and I was right.  I also said that this horse does not like getting crowded, I saw that in the Florida and Kentucky Derby.  In the Belmont, Johnny V had him in a hole all by himself throughout the race, not one horse was close to him.  I was wrong about the Belmont, I overestimated the field.  We have to wait and see if I was wrong about UR's distance ability.  just because he won the Belmont does not mean he has the ability to stay the classic distance.

I never claimed to be a pedigree expert, I searched articles on UR's pedigree and found Alan Porter's.  I also asked the pedigree experts in this blog and got my answers from Footlick (about how much influence does 7th generations back have on today's horses) and Pedigree Ann about his pedigree from 3 generations back.

You're the one that has questioned IHA and his abilities even after winning the Kentucky and Preakness and refuse to give him any kind of respect.

I've always said, I like Union Rags but not for the Classic distance races.  If he was raced as a miler, he'll probably be unbeaten right now and pretty much have the BC Mile won and if that was the case, I would be comfortable proclaiming him the BC Mile winner, months in advance.

Geronimo2123 : I never thought you were a fan of UR until after the Belmont.  I don't remember you talking about his pedigree at all so I'm a little confused about your comment regarding people who "kept carping" about his pedigree.  If that was something you knew before the Belmont, I would think that you would have bet UR in the Florida and Kentucky derbies but maybe I missed your posts on how you like UR in those 3 races. If so, I apologize for this quirp :)

I guess you all can tell I finished my 3 bowls of crow o'noodles  :)

11 Jun 2012 2:31 AM

Pete :  First of all, thanks again for the blogs.  Have a question though as far as the format.  Jason switches blogs from Triple Crown Mania to Breeder's Cup, and I think they're different pages so I'm wondering if you'll stay on one section or if you'll continue to do it the old way.  I personally vote for one location :)  Easier to keep track of it and only have to bookmark one page lol.

I don't mind either way really, as long as the blog keeps going.   Looking forward to the next blog.

11 Jun 2012 2:50 AM

1. The 2012 Belmont Stakes could have been an empty affair, but thoroughbred racing went on and Union Rags, Paynter, and Atigun ran their hearts out.  It was thrilling theater, and showed the world the wonders of the thoroughbred just a day after darkness.

2.  And it was great to see 85,000 folks still make it to Belmont, and to see the TV ratings up 13%.  The thoroughbred world didn't fall into a hole without I'll Have Another.

3.  Union Rags is a classy colt, and he delivered the type of gutsy performance I wasn't sure he had in him.  I was on the fence about his pedigree, but a number of people I know and respect were certain he couldn't get 10 furlongs let alone 12.  But Matz did and in the end the trainer knew the horse best.

4.  The best horse won the Belmont.  Had Smith closed the door, it would have prevented Union Rags from winning, and we now know he was the best horse.

5.  However, Mike Smith absolutely HAD to close up the rail.  It was an inexcusable mistake by any jockey, especially a veteran.  Smith placed undue blame on himself for Zenyatta's 10' Classic loss, but the Belmont truly was his fault.  And I didn't have any money on Paynter.

6.  Another Baffert horse turns in a remarkable performance in a Triple Crown runner-up effort.  Paynter was remarkable not because he ran fast, because he really didn't.  No, what's remarkable is that the horse was a nose away from winning the Belmont after having one start to his name at the beginning of April, a 5.5 furlong race at that!  Think about that for a while.

7.  The Belmont was great theater, but it was not a fast race.  The Beyer came back 96, Union Rags' typical race.  Atigun, a horse that had never run faster than an 89 Beyer and who had been blown out by Secret Circle and Bodemeister, was beaten less than 2.  That simply doesn't speak to great performances by the top 2.  The top 3 were game, just not fast.

8.  And the final time WAS NOT solely the result of a slow early pace.  They went MODERATE EARLY and MODERATE LATE.  After a tepid 6 furlongs in 1:14.72, Paynter sped the field up the next quarter, putting in a 24.13 fraction for a mile in 1:38.85.  That's respectable.  And with that slow early pace and that 24 second quarter to give them momentum, you would have thought the field would have continued on or at least near this increased pace.  Had they run the final half in even 50 seconds(two 25 second quarters), we're looking at a final time in 2:28 and 4.  

And given the moderate early pace, the horses should have been able to finish with a solid final half.  

But instead, the final half took 51.57.  That's ok for 12 furlongs, but after 6 furlongs in 114 and 3, it all adds up to produce a moderate to slow final time and speed figure.

9. Why does the final time and/or speed figure matter?  Well, it doesn't change the result but they are important when handicapping the next race for Union Rags and Paynter(and I guess Atigun as well since he was right there).  Given Union Rags has still not run a Beyer over 96, it is perfectly reasonable to question how he is going to be able to keep up with a horse like Bodemeister who has run a Beyer of 99 or higher in all 5 of his last races and twice run faster than 107.

10.  Because the Belmont is at 12 furlongs and because few horses seem able to run 12 furlongs fast anymore, I'm not going to hold the mediocre final time over the field like a sword.  Back in 2010 I was critical of that Belmont because of the time, and that race produced Drosselmeyer, Game on Dude, First Dude, and Fly Down.  So, I'll assume Union Rags and Paynter will probably run faster at a more natural distance.

But even if you ignore the time of the race, class handicapping will also bring into question the quality of the race given Atigun's close proximity at the finish.

11. Union Rags has at least given himself some shot at the 3 year old Eclipse.  But it's a long shot.  Of the 11 horses since Affirmed to have won the first two legs of the Crown, all 11 went on to be named champion 3 year old.

Union Rags is still 2 grade 1 wins behind I'll Have Another, with I'll Have Another holding twice the number of classic wins.  And since I'll Have Another won the big one(Derby) and beat Union Rags in that race, then Union Rags is most likely going to have to win one more grade 1 than I'll Have Another to compensate for this deficit in the head-to-head and in quality wins.  That means the Travers, Haskell and/or Jockey Club Gold Cup, with the Breeder's Cup Classic a must win.

I suppose it's possible, but it is a tall, tall order and one I am not expecting.

12.  It's absolutely fruitless to speculate how I'll Have Another would have done given what we know now about the race.  First, the race likely would have been run differently with I'll Have Another in the field.  Second, we don't know for sure whether I'll Have Another would have liked Belmont, or if he would have had traffic problems, or if Mario would have made a mistake.  And given the horse came up lame, it's totally reasonable to assume that even a 100% I'll Have Another would have succumbed to the rigors of the Triple Crown.

However, if we do suspend reality, and imagine that I'll Have Another would have reproduced his Preakness performance, then he wins by 4-7 lengths.  A repeat of his Derby would have resulted in a 2 length win.

In the end, it's moot because I'll Have Another sadly didn't have the constitution needed to be an immortal and sweep the Crown.

11 Jun 2012 3:13 AM

Just wanted to bring attention to the fact that last year's Champion Older Male, Acclamation, made his first start since early October a winning one in the grade 1 Whittingham.

This was notable for a number of reasons.  First, it gave Acclamation 3 consecutive wins in the Whittingham.  Any time a horse can win a grade 1 for 3 consecutive years it is worthy or praise.

Second, the win was Acclamation's 6th overall win in a row, with all of the wins coming in graded stakes(4 grade 1s and 2 grade 2s).

Third, the Whittingham gave Acclamation a total of 5 career grade 1 wins.  The most grade 1 wins by a North American male horse since 2000 is 7, shared by Curlin, Lava Man, and Gio Ponti.

Fourth, of the last 24 graded stakes turf marathons run in southern California, 15 have been won by Acclamation(6), Bourbon Bay(6), or Champ Pegasus(3).

Acclamation is the only one of the 3 to have beaten the other 2.

11 Jun 2012 3:24 AM


With all respect, I think that if a horse wins the Belmont it can get a classic distance.  If Union Rags didn't want to run beyond 8.5 furlongs he would have thrown in the towel on the far turn of the Belmont, slow pace or not.

My biggest concern with Union Rags now is if he has the speed to stay anywhere close to a horse like Bodemesiter and then still kick well enough to win, especially if Bode isn't being pushed.

Maybe it was the distance, but in the Belmont Union Rags took a long time to get going, and then had to really grind away at Paynter.  For a while on the backstretch it seemed like those long legs were just kind of running in motion.  But he did get going, pushing through any supposed pedigree barriers.  

11 Jun 2012 3:47 AM

GunBow : That was a great post (the long one hehe) and I agree with most of it specially your thoughts on how IHA would've run.  You're right that things could happen that would have prevent IHA from winning.  I never considered it because Super Mario has displayed smart riding in all of IHA's races.  I got spoiled and maybe overconfident that Mario can overcome any trouble by riding IHA smart, and keep him out of trouble and that's why I said that IHA would've won by a large margin and UR would've been a distant 2nd.

I (respectfully) do not agree with your comment that if a horse wins the Belmont that they can get the Classic distance.  Any horse can get 12fs, but it's a question of whether they can win against other horses who can stay the distance.  I've used the term "they stopped running" but let me clarify that what I mean is that the horse stops being competitive, they'll still run because their jockey will keep them running until the finish line.  Your concern about UR running against the likes of Bodemeister who has a sick natural speed pretty much explains my point.  If Bode stays sound and healthy, he will run UR and a lot of his competition to the ground.  If UR and Trinniberg faces each other in a mile race, I have no question in my mind that I'll be betting on Trinniberg to win the race.  But you're right, It is a moot point and it's now time to think about the summer races.

I honestly doubt that Matz will face Trinniberg or Bode in UR's future races.  I think Matz will spot him at 8.5 / 9f races.  There will be no Trinniberg and he'll pick the races where Bode isn't in the lineup.  That's what I would do.  Get as many G1s as I can without having to use my horse too much.  If my owner's goal is to win the Championship, I'll take my horse to the easiest route as possible.  Unlike in the past, it's not how much the purse is or taking the easy route, it's about beating the best of the best, the money is just the icing.  Sadly, I feel that this is now the name of the game, more emphasis on the breeding fees.  G1 wins, add media hype and you will get your horse a higher fee, regardless of who they beat.   I still don't get why Quality Road has the same (or probably higher) fee as Blame.  Blame beat him twice, both G1s.  Media hype?  or was it that he set track records at Gulfstream, or maybe his met mile run.  Blame won against the best of the best that year.  I bet the media stops talking about IHA in a week or two until it's time to vote for the Championship.  It'll all be about UR and his greatness because he won the Belmont.

Lastly, I want to thank you for your posts about our cali horses, I enjoy reading the details of each cali horses that you comment on.

Geez, my posts are long as well...sorry Pete and everyone else lol.

11 Jun 2012 5:22 AM

HUH?? I am really confused now....

11 Jun 2012 8:55 AM
Aaron McC

Great, gutsy Belmont.  Almost as good as the Preakness.

But I think I'm on the side of those that feel Union Rags has a lot to prove before he can come close to an Eclipse this year.  

What I'm wondering is if Bodemeister goes on to win the summer classics, does that give I'll Have Another the eclipse?  I think the placement of Bode in the next few races could be a huge determining factor in evaluating the creme of this crop. One of them may have to win the Classic to beat out I'll Have Another.

Ranagulzion: I know that Zayat and Baffert know a lot more than I ever will about evaluating a thoroughbred, but Paynter's resume is not nearly as impressive as Bodemeister's right now and owner and trainer public evaluations of horses are best taken as advertising for their future stud careers, to my mind.  I will look forward to seeing both of these lightly raced colts develop through the fall, however.  

11 Jun 2012 9:33 AM
Rusty Weisner

Wiped out, by a neck.

I ended up playing the last six races, six 50-cent pick 4 tickets on the two late Pick 4s, each with a different single:

Winter Memories




Deerslayer/Count Catamount (2 horses here)


Had Paynter won I would have won on three tickets.  

11 Jun 2012 9:44 AM
Rusty Weisner


Pete probably didn't lose on the day.  He hit the late Pick 4, at least.

11 Jun 2012 10:15 AM
Karen in Texas

GunBow----Thanks for addressing the Belmont Beyer number and pace factor in your post.

That entire 3:13 A.M. post would be really helpful over on Steve's current blog as well....

11 Jun 2012 11:49 AM
Pete Denk


My win/place bets produced minor profit (Race 2 winner Love to Run was one of my keys on the day), but I missed my next three win bets.

I put $132 into the pick 4s and hit the late one for $234. So I had an ok day.

If Paynter wins, I hit for $1,000, as I had him in the late p4 for $1, plus a prime win bet.

So close...

11 Jun 2012 1:48 PM
Pete Denk


To answer your question about the blog...I will be sticking with this blog all year, and the focus will be on handicapping.

Claire Novak is taking over Jason's old blogs (this weekend). The difference being Claire is not a handicapper, so I would expect a more feature oriented approach over there.

11 Jun 2012 1:55 PM

Jay, Jay, you have forgotten that Baffert said that he thought of the two, that Paynter was a better horse than Bodemeister. In this race, Union Rags was simply a man running against boys.

Here is a simple analysis of URs' pedigree, which you may feel is rudimentary at best, but it works for me.

On the sire side of the female line, Union Rags' dam Tempo was by Gone West.  Gone West was out of the Secretariat mare, Secrettame.  Secretariat was out of the Princequillo mare Somethingroyal.  As you know, Secretariat won the triple crown.  What you may not know is that Princequillo was one of the greatest long distance runners in the history of the sport.  So Union Rags got his stamina through daughters of great sires.

On the other hand, Union Rags also got his stamina through his dam's  female line. Tempo is out of the Nijinsky mare, Terpsichorist.  We all know that Nijinsky won the English triple crown.

I'm not sure if Hyperion played much of a part in Union Rags pedigree.

11 Jun 2012 1:58 PM

Jay Jay

I quote you: "UR will now have to show this is not a fluke." (jay jay 10 Jun 2012 3:51 AM)

So you don't call that berating the 2011 2YO Champagne Stakes winner that, like others before him (Seattle Slew,Easy Goer and Birdstone) came back as 3YOs and won the Belmont Stakes?

I'll let U/Rags argue with you on the track buddy. Peace.

Aaron Mac,

I only pointed out their regard for Paynter to debunk jay jay's attempt to suggest that the Belmont field was suddenly of a low standard because I'll Have Another was scratched. I don't necessarily agree with the opinion of the connections but they should've seen more of these colts than either of us at training. Its true that Paynter has some catching up to do but he just might if Bodemeister turns out to be only a miler.

11 Jun 2012 2:24 PM


My analysis of Union Rags' pedigree show that perhaps 90% of his stamina is flowing from Hyperion's pervasive presence in his pedigree matrix, top and bottom. His dam Tempo is also loaded with the blood of the patriarchal sire but analysts who just skim the 5-cross pedigree mostly came to the conclusion that the colt could'nt stay.  My reading of the pedigree, bolstered by the horse's phenotype and running style suggested that he could relish up to 14 furlongs. His Belmont Stakes performance proved it.

11 Jun 2012 2:33 PM

Ranagulzion : Dude, chill out man.  You're too sensitive when it comes to this horse.  UR has NOT and I repeat has not proven anything ... YET.  The horses you mentioned all WON after they won the Belmont, that's all I'm saying.  UR winning 1 G2, got 3rd in his first G1 race of the year, unplaced in his next 2 G1 races does not make him the superstar horse that you claim him to be.  I explained he has a good chance at the championship now that IHA is retired.  The Belmont field had one G1 winner after IHA scratched.  You're using Paynter to say that this is a stellar field ??  What about the other 9 horses ??  You didn't even mention Dullahan who was the only G1 winner in the race.  Paynter could turn out to be a monster horse having lost a 12F race with only 2 races under his belt this year.  I didn't think he was seasoned enough to run in the Belmont yet he only lost by a nose.  I ended up picking him because of his pedigree and the quality of the field.  You have this knack of turning my posts about UR as being negative.  I'm not sold on his abilities yet, that doesn't mean I'm berating him.  Unless I guarantee that he's the HOTY, I don't think you'll be satisfied lol.  Be honest now, are you really Michael Matz ??  Tell the truth.

I'm the one that lost money by not betting him, you probably won enough to buy an island you can name after UR so I'm confused why you're all upset.  Yes, let's have UR "argue" with me on the track, that's all I'm asking.

Mary :  I don't know much about pedigree, but I'm glad you agree that Hyperion most likely does not have any influence on UR's ability to get 12Fs.  That's all I've been trying to tell him but he refuse to listen lol.

Rusty : I guess I confused everyone with my apology to Pete.  It was an apology to him and the bloggers for having such a long post.  Not in any way related to his bets.

Billy : I'm not surprised... lol

Pete : THANKS for sticking to this blog.  I'm looking forward to your picks and analysis.

12 Jun 2012 1:00 AM

"Why does the final time and/or speed figure matter?  Well, it doesn't change the result but they are important when handicapping the next race for Union Rags and Paynter(and I guess Atigun as well since he was right there).  Given Union Rags has still not run a Beyer over 96, it is perfectly reasonable to question how he is going to be able to keep up with a horse like Bodemeister who has run a Beyer of 99 or higher in all 5 of his last races and twice run faster than 107."

Great posts, GunBow. However, Paynter had twice run over a 100 BSF prior to the Belmont Stakes. BSFs are relatively meaningless. Look at the SA Derby this year. Low 90s. How did the horse that won the SA Derby at 90 something do against the horse that had run a 108 in the Ark Derby?

So, rely on BSFs all you want. I use them as an angle to bet against. For instance, the SA Derby was a good 7 BSF points low because of the 3rd place finisher had never run over an 80 something.

12 Jun 2012 2:50 AM


I'm easy Bro. Just keeping you honest. Lets wait and see. I hope Matz sends U/Rags to the Haskell to take care of Bodemeister and company (including you LOL).


I have great respect for your posts. Very solid arguments buddy. Keep them coming my friend.

12 Jun 2012 4:02 PM

First chance to read comments after getting back from the Belmont.  Congrats to all who stuck with Union Rags.  Had the ex but Atigun knocked me out of the tri.  Hit the tri in the last race to get back near even but wound up down for the day but had a great time at Belmont Park.

Was able to get down to the paddock before the 10th race and get a good postion to view.  Seeing I'll Have Another come in and spend so much time walking the paddock to the cheers of the fans was a special moment.

Paynter and Union Rags both looked super in the paddock.  Union Rags looked washed and jumpy before the Florida Derby but Saturday he looked well in control of himself and ran that way.  As others have pointed out, Union Rags ran to his form with the 96, kept out of traffic trouble and almost miraculously had the hole open up just enough for him to power through.  I agree with those who say he's still has a long way to go to be even in a conversation of three year old champion.  Maybe Michael Matz, after that disaster in the KD, is just bringing him along at his own pace.

Dullahan, my pick, needed a fast pace to run into and didn't get it.  I hope they stick to the turf with him with a prep at Keeneland.

Pure speculation on my part but I'll Have Another, assuming a clean trip, would have dominated this field.

A great Belmont with a great stretch run and a great day of racing.  Win, lose or dead heat, it was great to be there.          

12 Jun 2012 11:16 PM

Ranagulzion : I've always been honest with my posts, I don't pretend to be an expert.  I would never ever proclaim a triple crown winner before the kentucky derby, what happened to IHA proved it's ridiculous to make those kinds of prediction or guarantee in your case.  I'm just trying to keep YOU honest :)  Yes, I'm hoping Matz sends him to the Haskell as well.  At least we'll know if Belmont was a fluke or not.  We will have to wait for the Travers to see if I'm right about his pedigree and distance limitation.

12 Jun 2012 11:16 PM

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