06/06/2012 8:32PM

The 2012 Belmont Stakes...11 of the 12 contenders


As the days tick down to I'll Have Another's date with destiny in the Belmont Stakes, the eyes of the racing world are aimed squarely toward the handsome chestnut colt and his trainer Doug O'Neill.  Oh, sure, my eyes are, too - but I'm also watching the others likely to contest the 2012 Test of the Champion.  

Here they are....the horses whose connections are trying to keep the Triple Crown off of I'll Have Another's head.

ATIGUN (2009 bay colt by Istan - Rimini Road, by Dynaformer)  Owner:  Shortleaf Stable, Inc./Breeder:  Brereton C. Jones/Trainer: Ken McPeek/Jockey: Julien Leparoux

9 starts, with 3 wins, 1 second, earnings of $135,253.  Most recent race: Won a Churchill Downs allowance optional claimer, 5/5/12.  Stakes best: Finished 5th in the G1 Arkansas Derby

Above:  Atigun works out at Belmont Park under Julien Leparoux, June 3, 2012.  

Above:  Atigun getting his greens.

Above:  Atigun....quite an unusual face.

DULLAHAN (2009 chestnut colt by Even the Score - Mining My Own, by Smart Strike)  Owner: Donegal Racing/Trainer: Dale Romans/Breeders: Phil Needham, Judy Needham and Bena Halecky/Jockey: Javier Castellano.  Interesting side note:  Dullahan is a half-brother to Mine That Bird

9 starts, with 2 wins, 2 seconds and 3 thirds, earnings of $1,072,091.  Last race:  Kentucky Derby, finished third.  Biggest win: Toyota Blue Grass

Above/below: Dullahan with his regular exercise rider Faustino Aguilar aboard.

Above:  Dullahan during his bath, June 1, 2012.

FIVE SIXTEEN(2009 bay gelding, by Invasor (ARG) - Third Street, by Salt Lake)  Owner:  MeB Racing Stables LLC/Breeder: Machmer Hall/Trainer: Dominick A. Schettino/Jockey: Rosie Napravnik  

6 starts, 1 win, 1 second and 1 third, earnings of $63,054.  Win: Aqueduct maiden race on March 14, 2012. Most recent race, 4th in an Aqueduct allowance on 4/18


Above:  Five Sixteen works out, with Rosie Napravnik up, at Belmont Park.

Above:  Five Sixteen during his bath on June 2nd.  Note how similar his face looks to that of his sire, Invasor.

Above:  Five Sixteen in the Belmont Stakes' barn on June 6.

GUYANA STAR DWEEJ (2009 chestnut colt by Eddington - Special Feeling, by Pine Bluff)  Owner/Shivmangal Racing Stable, LLC/Breeder:  Lavin Bloodstock and Leroy S. Close/Trainer: Doodnaught Shivmangal/Jockey: Kent Desormeaux

9 starts, 1 win, 5 seconds, earnings of $103,830.  Win:  April 7, 2012 maiden race at Aqueduct. Most recent race: Belmont allowance optional claimer, 4/27, finished second

Above:  Yahoo!  Guyana Star Dweej leaves the earth while grazing in the Belmont Stakes' barn paddock on June 6.  

Above:  Guyana Star Dweej, with new pilot Kent Desormeaux, on June 4th.  Note the lovely blonde-ish mane on the Eddington colt.

Above:  Guyana Star Dweej (right) works in company with stakes winner Shkspeare Shaliyah at Belmont on June 4th.

MY ADONIS (2009 bay colt by Pleasantly Perfect - Silent Justice, by Elusive Quality)  Owner: George and Lori Hall/Breeder: K&G Stables/Trainer: Kelly Breen/Jockey: Ramon Dominguez

10 starts, 2 wins, 4 seconds, 2 thirds, earnings $316,000. Stakes winner (Jean Lafitte Stakes). Most recent start, 3rd in the Canonero II Stakes at Pimlico

Above:  My Adonis arriving at Belmont on June 6.

Above:  My Adonis at Belmont Park.

Above:  My Adonis at Belmont Park on June 6.

OPTIMIZER (2009 bay colt by English Channel - Indy Pick, by A.P. Indy)  Owner and breeder: Bluegrass Hall LLC/Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas/Jockey: Corey Nakatani

11 starts, 1 win, 2 seconds, 1 third, earnings $215,594.  Multiple graded stakes-placed; most recent race, 6th in the Preakness

Above/below:  Optimizer, as a 2-year-old at Churchill Downs (above) and as a 3-year-old at Churchill Downs (below).

Above:  Optimizer and Wayne Lukas at Pimlico during Preakness week.

PAYNTER (2009 bay colt by Awesome Again - Tizso, by Cee's Tizzy)  Owner:  Zayat Stables, LLC/Breeder: Diamond A Racing Corp./Trainer:  Bob Baffert. Jockey: Mike Smith

4 starts, 2 wins, 1 second, earnings of $152,224.  Latest win: Pimlico allowance, 5/19/12.  Most recent stakes: Derby Trial on 4/28, finished second.  

Above:  George Alvarez aboard Paynter.

Above:  Paynter (the dark horse, not the white one) gets a bath.

Above:  Jimmy Barnes and Paynter in the shedrow.

RAVELO'S BOY (2009 chestnut colt by Lawyer Ron - Dance Tune, by French Deputy)  Owner: Korina Stable/Breeder: Stonewall Farm Stallions/Trainer: Manuel Azpurua/Jockey: Alex Solis

13 starts, 2 wins (maiden and GUL allowance optional claimer), 2 thirds; earnings $75,765; most recent race a 5th in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby

Above:  Ravelo's Boy on track at Belmont on June 6.

Above/below:  Ravelo's Boy at the Belmont Stakes' barn on June 6.

Street Life (2009 dark bay or brown colt by Street Sense - Stone Hope, by Grindstone).  Owner: Magnolia Racing Stable LLC and Hidden Brook Farm/Breeder" Mueller Thoroughbred Stable, Ltd./Trainer: Chad Brown. Jockey: Jose Lezcano

5 starts, 2 wins, 1 third, earnings $114,405. Won the Broad Brush Stakes on March 17.  Most recent stakes - third in the G2 Peter Pan on May 12

Above:  Street Life and Richard Johnson at Belmont Park.

Above:  Street Life at Belmont Park.  Chad Brown keeps his horses' tails trimmed in the same manner as did his old boss and mentor Bobby Frankel.

Above:  Chad Brown's assistant Cherie DeVaux gets a little tongue from Street Life.  He'll even do it on command!....if he wants to.

UNION RAGS (2009 bay colt by Dixie Union - Tempo, by Gone West)  Owner:  Chadds Ford Stable/Breeder: Phyllis M. Wyeth/Trainer: Michael Matz/Jockey: John Velazquez

7 starts, 4 wins, 1 second, 1 third, earnings $1,198,800.  Grade I and II winner.  Last stakes appearance: 7th in Kentucky Derby

Above/below:  Union Rags with Cesar Zarco upon their Belmont Park arrival June 6.

Above:  Union Rags, looking like a painting at Churchill Downs this spring.  This was a beautiful moment.

UNSTOPPABLE U (2009 grey or roan colt by Exchange Rate - Naseem, by Point Given)  Owner: Magdalena Racing (Susan McPeek) and Mojallali Stables, Inc./Breeder: Mojallali Stables, Inc./Trainer: Ken McPeek/Jockey: Junior Alvarado

2 starts, 2 wins, earnings $82,200.  Most recent start: Belmont allowance optional claimer on 4/27/12

Above:  Unstoppable U before a workout at Belmont Park last Sunday.

Above/below:  Unstoppable U at Ken McPeek's Belmont barn on June 2.

Good luck to everyone - including, of course, I'll Have Another (whom we'll feature in an upcoming blog), on June 9 in the Belmont Stakes!

J_Burco27 More than 1 year ago
Lovely photos! Big fan of Street Life and Rags! Where can I buy your photos?
laura ban More than 1 year ago
Great photo of IHA Barbara - I have mixed feelings about him going to Japan, hope he will be well cared for and live long time.
laura ban More than 1 year ago
I can't wait to see the winners photos that Barbara will post! Great win but another so close heart breaking loss for Mike Smith. He will always be a champion in my opinion.
Catherine Dunlavy More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love Union Rags' head!!
Catherine Dunlavy More than 1 year ago
If I'll Have Another was still in the Belmont, he would have totally won.;)
Yuwipi More than 1 year ago
The second shot of Street Life looks like a Reeves oil! Amazing. I'm still unable to get your Gulfstream photo of Union Rags out of my head. He is an extremely impressive looking horse. Shortleaf Stable? Is that a successor to the old Loblolly operation? Colors are very similar. Lastly, kudos to all the barn workers who handle these very powerful animals with respect and care. I would be terrified if a horse leapt up like several of these are doing and I was on the other end of the leaping. Would love to see a Triple Crown again, but mainly just want to see them all come back safe and sound.
Ann George-Belanich More than 1 year ago
Unstoppable is going to win it BIG and Ill have another 3rd...
MaryAnn Donahue More than 1 year ago
Love your photographs, Barbara. You are an exceptional equine artist. I agree with others who posted that Union Rags is magnificent to behold, you captured his regal prescence with your lens. Thank you.
Cheri Lockwood More than 1 year ago
Georgeous pictures, Ravelo's Boy-kicking back, Guyana Star Dweej-in air, StreetLife-kissing,Union Rags in all his handsomeness, how great to have captured all of that.Thank you
Kyri Freeman More than 1 year ago
It's not in this blog, but I love, LOVE that picture that DRF is using for a header, of I'll Have Another and Lava Man walking together. It looks like Lava Man is saying, "And then coming into the stretch, you just lay your ears back and blow them off the track, just like Corey and I used to do it," and IHA is listening attentively!
SamHolmgren More than 1 year ago
Extraordinary photos. Perhaps Street LIfe should be renamed Darth Vader.