06/07/2012 1:56PM

Belmont Stakes 2012 workout reports: Dullahan stands out

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Tom Keyser
Dullahan impressed with his training ahead of Saturday's Belmont Stakes.

ELMONT, N.Y. – A dozen horses will line up for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, but of that group, there are less than a handful with a legitimate chance of actually winning the race. Some of the field, including I’ll Have Another, have been training here regularly for the past several weeks. Others, like top contender Union Rags and longshot My Adonis, did not arrive on the grounds until Wednesday.

The following (listed in post position order) are the impressions the Belmont dozen have made during training hours over the past week.

Street Life turned in an average work Sunday. Breezing in company with New York-bred maiden Zivo, Street Life broke off a length behind and was under some urging to finish a neck in front of his partner who was being asked a bit more coming to the wire. Street Life did finish with interest, completing his final quarter in 24.65 seconds before galloping out well. He also made a favorable impression during his routine gallop Thursday.

Unstoppable U is an extremely good looking colt but facing a daunting task attempting to go 1 1/2 miles against the best of his division with only two starts under his belt. He swapped leads a couple of times and took an erratic path through much of the stretch before finally leveling off late in Sunday’s work. He was on the proper lead and finished strong at the end of a nice training session Thursday.

[BELMONT STAKES: Past performances, video updates, contender profiles, odds]

Union Rags made his first local appearance Thursday after turning in a very impressive work, according to colleague David Grening and jockey John Velazquez, at Fair Hill on Sunday. Union Rags, who had a busy morning jogging to the gate before galloping nearly 1 1/2 miles, is prone to getting hot, even during training hours, but he was inordinately so Thursday, considering the cool conditions that prevailed at the time. Physically, he looks as good as ever. The main concern here remains his ability to get 1 1/2 miles.

Atigun has had a pretty good final week leading up to the race. He had little more than a maintenance work under jockey Julien Leparoux on Sunday, breezing a very easy half-mile. He looked very sharp coming down the stretch and galloping out around the clubhouse turn Thursday, completing his final three furlongs from the eighth pole in 39 and change.

Dullahan has made the most favorable impression of any of the 12 Belmont contenders since Saturday. He worked a half-mile in 45.82 as easily as possible under his new rider, Javier Castellano, on Sunday with plenty left in the tank to shade 59 seconds for his five-furlong gallop out. Better yet, he has not missed a beat since that work, with his long and very energetic gallop session here Wednesday about as good as it gets.

Ravelo’s Boy has been worked hard and responded willingly in the weeks leading up to the Belmont, with a series of very fast and impressive drills at Calder topped by his seven-furlong trial May 27 featuring a one-mile gallop out in 1:41, which is pretty much unheard of down there.

Five Sixteen has turned in a series of routine gallops over the past week, but like several of the others in this lineup really doesn’t seem to have the credentials to play in this league.

Guyana Star Dweej has been uninspiring, to say the least, this week. He did everything the wrong way while outworked by stablemate Shkspeare Shaliyah on Monday, going his opening quarter in 22.42 and coming home in a dismal 26.88. He also was not travelling smoothly when galloping in company Thursday.

Paynter comes into the Belmont in peak form and turned in the longest and stiffest work of any of the contenders this past week, going seven furlongs in company Sunday during which he was put to a drive at the top of the stretch before finally collaring his workmate Brigand nearing the wire. Paynter ultimately drew well clear while pressured to complete the distance in an okay 1:24.57 and gallop out a mile in 1:37.40. He has appeared a little stiff breaking off during subsequent training sessions, although he was striding out a little better through the stretch Thursday. He comes into the race as one of the few legitimate win contenders in this field, but perhaps showing some effects from his huge performance in an allowance race in Baltimore last month.

Optimizer had all his major preparations for the Belmont at Churchill Downs prior to shipping here earlier this week, and it’s hard to get enthused over his chances off his dismal performances in the opening legs of the Triple Crown series.

I’ll Have Another did not have an official work at Belmont, but turned in a series of work-like efforts in the morning, peaking with a spirited final quarter-mile in 25.02 into the club turn at the end of Sunday’s session. He did not show quite the same energy level over the next three mornings, but did finish stronger Thursday, albeit under a little bit of encouragement from his rider, during the final portion of yet another now familiar and routine mile gallop. The Belmont remains his race to lose.

My Adonis did all his work at Monmouth Park and is another who appears to be in deep waters in this spot.