• The three-year-old picture: I'll Have Another on top

    POSTED Jun 9, 2012
    I don't think anyone expected that anything would happen in today's Belmont Stakes to dethrone I'll Have Another from the top spot in the three-year-old division, and those expectations were met when Union Rags surged up the rail to defeat Paynter and win the Belmont Stakes in 2:30.42.

    I'll Have Another is in the driver's seat for the Eclipse Award as champion three-year-old male, but his car is parked and the emergency brake is stuck in the on position. And at this point, if any horse can dethrone him from the top spot, it's Union Rags who some would say was defeated not by superior competition in the Florida and Kentucky Derbys but troubled trips.

    If Union Rags runs the table, I'll Have Another will have the head to head nod with the Derby win (Union Rags was seventh), but Union Rags has a classic win to his credit now, too, and a win against elder males later in the year following a big summer could be enough to propel him past the three-time Grade 1 winner.

    Bodemeister could re-enter the picture with a big summer and fall as well, but working against him is that I'll Have Another beat him on the square in both the Derby & Preakness. A pie-in-the-sky Haskell-Travers-Goodwood-BC Classic grand slam would be hard to deny him the championship (and Horse of the Year), but any slip up without a Breeders' Cup win probably stymies his chances.

    If I were to make a line now on who the champion three-year-old male will be it'd look like this (10% takeout):

    I'll Have Another, evens
    Bodemeister, 5-to-2
    Union Rags, 7-to-2
    All others, 9-to-1

    Even if I'll Have Another stays ahead of the pack, it should be a fun summer. Zayat chasing a big win after finishing second in all three Triple Crown races plus a good group of sprinter and middle distance horses among this crop (Trinniberg, Hansen, etc.) will make for great theatre hopefully all year.
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