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Dullahan to win Belmont in absence of I’ll Have Another -- Connections get luck of the Irish with favorite’s defection

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Dullahan to win Belmont
The defection of I’ll Have Another is a real body blow to racing and to the millions of fans who were looking forward to a Triple Crown winner after 35 years.

It will be Hamlet without the prince at Belmont tomorrow, but it will still be a helluva race, thrown wide open by the absence of the Triple Crown pretender.

Dullahan, named after a Celtic god of Mythology and owned by Jerry Crawford of Donegal Stables, will be the favorite at 9/5 or so.

He worked in a very impressive manner earlier this week and finished like a train in the Kentucky Derby, so the mile and a half distance should suit him.

The knock against Dullahan is that he is really a turf horse, or a polytrack horse, and is far more effective on those surfaces than dirt. His best race ever was in the Bleu Grass stakes over the polytrack in Keeneland, so there are still questions about him on dirt.

Paynter is trained by Bob Baffert, so that automatically makes him a contender. He has early speed which will see him prominent early on and there are no better speed riders than Mike Smith, who has a clock in his head and is very familiar with Belmont from his years riding there.

The other big contender is Union Rags from the Michael Matz stable, aka known as Barbaro’s trainer. He was the winter favorite for the Derby after a massive two-year-old year, but has disappointed this year badly with poor breaks in both the Florida Derby and the Kentucky Derby costing him any chance.

Under new jockey John Velazquez, he should certainly get out of the gate, and if he runs back to his two-year-old form, he will run them very close.

My selection is Dullahan because of that amazing 45 and change workout over the Belmont strip earlier this week. His class and closing kick should give him the victory given that Paynter and a few others will set a contested pace.

Dullahan, followed by Paynter and Union Rags, with the inexperienced but talented outsider Unstoppable U to complete the superfecta, are my choices.

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