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Jun 08, 2012

Outside post should be no problem for I'll Have Another


Elmont, NY (Sports Network) - Saturday's Belmont Stakes has drawn a field of 12 three-year-olds for the 1 1/2 mile Test of Champions. Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another has drawn post 11 and is the 4-5 morning line favorite.

With the size of the track and only 12 horses running, the outside post should not be a disadvantage for I'll Have Another and jockey Mario Gutierrez.

"Being in the 11th hole, we're able to kind of see how the pace sets up. If they're crawling, we'll hopefully be leading the crawl, and if they're flying, we'll be sitting in behind the horses flying," noted trainer Doug O'Neill. "Mario is just such a confident rider and he's so confident in I'll Have Another. They get along so well, so we're in good shape."

I'll Have Another won the Kentucky Derby from the 19 post in a 20 horse field and started in the nine hole for the Preakness.

The 5-1 second pick for the race is Dullahan who will break from post five with jockey Javier Castellano. Dullahan, trained by Dale Romans, was third in the Derby but skipped the Preakness.

"If we had won the Kentucky Derby -- and we thought we would, the race showed we clearly should have -- we would have gone to the Preakness," said Jerry Crawford, managing partner of owner Donegal Stable. "Having failed to do that, if you examine the genetic code of Dullahan and his sire, Even the Score, it clearly mitigated in favor of giving him some rest and coming here."

Former Kentucky Derby favorite Union Rags has been most affected by post positions this year. The 6-1 third choice for Saturday was in the four post in the Run for the Roses and was squeezed back at the start which compromised his race.

For the Belmont Stakes the colt will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez from post three. Trainer Michael Matz is again not completely happy with the draw.

"If I had my choice I would have picked a little further out. I think the horse has enough speed to be in a decent position," Matz said.

Owner Ahmed Zayat is giving Derby and Preakness runner-up Bodemeister a rest from the Belmont Stakes. In his place is 8-1 fourth choice Paynter. Also trained by Bob Baffert, Paynter has drawn post nine with Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith.

"He's more versatile than people think," Zayat said about Paynter. "He can probably do anything, but it looks like we have drawn a nice post. There is a lack of speed, so maybe he'll be on the lead, but I'm not sure."

Breaking from the rail will be the 12-1 choice Street Life and jockey Jose Lezcano, which suits trainer Chad Brown just fine.

"I talked to my jockey the other day, Jose Lezcano, and I asked him, 'Where do you want to be?' and he said, 'I like to be inside.' You can't get any more inside than that. He got his wish. That's where he wants to be," Brown noted. "When it comes down to post position, I'm more interested in what the jockeys want. He wants to be inside, so he's inside."

The updated weather forecast for the Belmont Stakes is partly cloudy skies with a 20 percent chance of rain and a post-time temperature near 80.

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