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Belmont Stakes Field is Set For I'll Have Another's Triple Crown Bid

NEW YORK — The field of horses for Saturday's Belmont Stakes, where I'll Have Another will try to win the first Triple Crown in more than 30 years, is set.

The Kentucky-bred chesnut colt is the expert's pick to take the Triple Crown, with 3-5 odds as of Wednesday morning, after winning the May 5 Kentucky Derby and the May 19 Preakness Stakes.

The other contenders for the race in Elmont, LI, also nicknamed "The Run for the Carnations," include Atigun, Dullahan, Five Sixteen, Guyana Star Dweej, My Adonis, Optimizer, Paynter, Street Life, Union Rags, Ravelo's Boy and Unstoppable U.

The New York Racing Association announced Wednesday that My Adonis was added to the race, bringing the final count of contenders up to 12.

 The horses' positions were also finalized, with I'll Have Another getting a favorable outward track post of number 12, and Street Life getting the difficult first post on the inside of the track.

The other post positions may be found on the Belmont Stakes website.

"If he were to get lucky and win on June 9 I think it would be great," I'll Have Another's trainer Doug O'Neill told NYRA, according to Belmont Park's website.

"Anything we can do to show what a great game it is, how beautiful these horses are, and how well they’re cared for is, I’m hoping, a positive step."

The colts that racing experts say might give I'll Have Another a run for his money include Dullahan, a chestnut colt that has the projected odds of 5-1, and Union Rags, a bay colt with projected odds of 6-1 (projected odds are as of Wednesday morning).

One of I'll Have Another's biggest obstacles, however, might be the absence of a nasal strip that he wears to be protected from potential bleeding of the lungs.

The horse will be forced to do without, since nasal strips are among equipment banned at the prestigious race.

Dullahan, on the other hand, has the challenge of becoming acquainted with a new jockey, Javier Castellano, after his original jockey Kent Desormeaux failed an alcohol test in mid-May.

Union Rags, one of the most beloved colts on the Belmont field, is the subject of a documentary called “Union Rags: An American Love Story.”

He is “sweet” and “calm,” but his attributes may also be his downfall — his recent lackluster history have race fans questioning whether or not he’s fast and mature enough for the Belmont track.

“I’m pretty sure [trainer Michael Matz] just wants him to have a clean trip," said John Valezquez, rider of Union Rags, in a press conference at Belmont Park.

"Obviously he hasn’t had a very clean trip in his last [two] races. I’d like to ask the racing gods to bring rain, make it wet!”

Other horses in the race have odds ranging from 12-1 to 50-1, making them longshots in taking the prize, according to Belmont Park's website.

Although it's a rarity for a horse to take a Triple Crown, I'll Have Another's trainer thinks it would be a good thing for the sport if his horse won.

“One of the problems our industry has, we have a hard time falling in love with horses, because oftentimes, once they get really good, the temptation of the financial end of it is so strong that most of us have to take the money and retire them,” he said in a statement.

"It would be nice to see him around for another year or two if the racing gods are looking over him.”