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.