USA: I’ll Have Another drawn 11 of 12 in Belmont

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By Nicholas Godfrey
Racing Post

USA: I’ll Have Another will break from gate 11 in a 12-runner field when he bids to become America’s first Triple Crown winner for 34 years in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.

The Doug O’Neill-trained colt has been made 4-5 favourite on Belmont Park indicative morning line for the $1 million event, in which he will again be ridden by Mario Gutierrez, so cool in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

I’ll Have Another is attempting to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

Since then, 11 horses have gone to Saturday’s 1m4f dirt contest with two Classics under their belt only to fail at the final hurdle.

Even with a double-figure field, the draw is regarded as less of a factor in the Belmont than the other Triple Crown races. “Being in post position 11 will allow us to see how the pace sets up,” said trainer Doug O’Neill, quoted in the Daily Racing Form.

Kentucky Derby third Dullahan, the mount of Javier Castellano, has drawn gate five in the Belmont for trainer Dale Romans, while highly rated Union Rags starts from post position three.

Dullahan’s trainer Dale Romans was asked if he has any qualms about spoiling a Triple Crown bid. “None at all,” was the less-than-surprising answer.

“I’d like to have 120,000 people booing’me on the way out,” added Romans. “Those are great horses who have won the Triple Crown and I think they’ll want to earn it. We owe it to the past Triple Crown winners to make him earn it.”

John Velazquez replaces Julien Leparoux on Union Rags, a Grade 1 winner at Belmont last term, after a troubled passage in the Kentucky Derby, where he was only seventh behind I’ll Have Another.

Velazquez partnered Union Rags for the first time in a workout on Sunday at trainer Michael Matz’s Maryland base.

“I just got on him last Sunday and he was just very impressive. I couldn’t have asked for a better work,” said the jockey

“I’m pretty sure he just wants him to have a clean trip. Obviously he hasn’t had a very clean trip in his last races. I’d like to ask the racing gods to bring rain, make it wet!”

Outsider My Adonis was a late addition to the field for the trainer Kelly Breen and owners George and Lori Hall, who won last year’s Belmont with 24-1 longshot Ruler On Ice.

Eclipse Award-winning jockey Ramon Dominguez takes the ride.

Belmont Stakes field

1. Street Life Jose Lezcano 12-1
2. Unstoppable U Junior Alvarado 30-1
3. Union Rags John Velazquez 6-1
4. Atigun Julien Leparoux 30-1
5. Dullahan Javier Castellano 5-1
6. Ravelo’s Boy Alex Solis 50-1
7. Five Sixteen Rosie Napravnik 50-1
8. Guyana Star Dweej Kent Desormeaux 50-1
9. Paynter Mike Smith 8-1
10. Optimizer Corey Nakatani 20-1
11. I’ll Have Another Mario Gutierrez 4-5
12. My Adonis Ramon Dominguez 20-1

View the original article at the Racing Post

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