2012 Belmont Stakes Predictions: New Favorites Following the Scratch of I’ll Have Another: Winning the Triple Crown has proved to be too much for any horse for the last 34 years, and I’ll Have Another’s bid to end the drought is officially over before it began. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner was scratched from Saturday’s Belmont Stakes because of a leg injury. The extent of the injury remains to be seen, but a tendon issue in the horse’s front leg prompted his trainers to make the decision. Attempting a 1 ½-race on the Belmont’s sandy surface with a horse that is less than 100 percent is a recipe for disaster. The injury isn’t fatal, but it is the nail in the coffin for I’ll Have Another’s bid to become the 12th Triple Crown winner in horse racing history.

The announcement strips the race of its biggest storyline and basically all of the drama. Win or lose, the media and fans wanted to watch I’ll Have Another’s pursuit of history, and that is no longer an option. On the plus side, it does make things a little more wide open as far as bettors are concerned. I’ll Have Another was 4/5 favorite to win Saturday’s Race, and with the favorite now out of the mix, the Belmont is up for grabs.

The Favorites – 2012 Belmont Stakes Odds, Free Picks and Predictions

Things have really fallen into place for Dullahan. The horse finished a hard-charging third in the Kentucky Derby, and with I’ll Have Another scratched and Bodemeister not entered, the two horses that defeated him in the “Rune for the Roses” won’t be on the track Saturday. As his late surge to the front from the far post in the Kentucky Derby suggests, Dullahan isn’t lacking in the stamina department. The 1 ½-mile layout of the Belmont should play to the horse’s strengths, especially since he is well rested after skipping the Preakness. On paper, he is the best horse left in the field this weekend.

Last year, a runner-up effort in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile put Union Rags on the short list of horses to watch in 2012. A win at Champagne early in this season added to the hype, but the horse quickly faded into irrelevancy following his lackluster showing in the Kentucky Derby. However, it is worth pointing out that Union Rags was bumped in traffic at Churchill Downs, and he suffered the same fate in his mediocre run in the Florida Derby earlier in the year. The Belmont field is much smaller, which should take navigating traffic out of the equation. Union Rags should finally have a chance to showcase his talent Saturday.

The Dark Horses – 2012 Belmont Stakes Odds, Free Picks and Predictions

Bob Baffert is resting his big gun Bodemeister this weekend, but the trainer will enter Paynter in the Belmont Stakes. Interestingly enough, there are a lot of similarities between Paynter, and the horse that Baffert almost saw win him another Kentucky Derby and Preakness just a few weeks ago. Like Bodemeister, Paynter didn’t run a race as a two year old, but he has impressed this season. He crushed the field in the Preakness undercard in his most-recent outing, and he was strong in his Belmont warm-up sessions. Paynter hasn’t necessarily faced the toughest competition in his starts, but he should still be able to make some noise at the Belmont.

The Sleeper – 2012 Belmont Stakes Odds, Free Picks and Predictions

Winning the Belmont requires a horse to have an ample amount of stamina, and Optimizer’s pedigree points to a horse that should excel at distance running. Granted, the horse was a bust at the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but he has a few things working in his favor this weekend. There is a smaller, weaker field that is lacking the powerhouses I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister, and the Belmont’s 1 ½-mile distance fits Optimizer’s running style. He has consistently been moving forward at the end of all his races, and his long-run strength could prevail Saturday.

Updated Odds to Win the 2012 Belmont Stakes
201 Street Life +815
202 Unstoppable U +2050
203 Union Rags +225
204 Atigun +2550
205 Dullahan +185
206 Ravelos Boy +4050
207 Five Sixteen +6050
208 Guyana Star Dweej +6550
209 Paynter +425
210 Optimizer +1615
211 Ill Have Another
212 My Adonis +1550

Check updated 2012 Belmont Stakes Odds and updated 2012 Belmont Stakes Predictions from the National Sports Advisors!

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