Favored Dullahan finishes seventh
Dullahan was a dull seventh as the 5-2 favorite in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday at Belmont Park.
Trainer Dale Romans offered no solid excuse for the third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby.
''We just didn't have a finishing kick,'' Romans said. ''This is a good horse, a very good horse. I was sure he was going to run a really big one.''
So did the bettors who made Dullahan a slight favorite over Union Rags who rallied up the rail to win the race.
Both Dullahan and Union Rags dropped back early. That's where the similarities end. While Union Rags picked up the tempo on the final turn, Dullahan stalled.
''Turning for home, he just got to spinning his wheels,'' Romans said. ''The race unfolded like it looked on paper to me.''
Jockey Javier Castellano felt Dullahan was never comfortable on Belmont's sandy surface. He has won twice, with both victories coming on the synthetic track at Keeneland.
''The track was a little deep, and he kind of struggled a little bit,'' Castellano said. ''I was in a full drive, and he never got a hold of the track.''
Business was brisk for the Belmont Stakes despite the loss of star attraction I'll Have Another.
The retirement of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Friday because of a left leg injury robbed the Belmont of the sure-fire draw of a Triple Crown bid. Against that backdrop, the numbers were solid.
The crowd of 85,811 was sixth-largest in track history. It was the highest turnout for a Belmont Stakes without a Triple Crown on the line, erasing the mark of 73,857 in 2001.
And they came to gamble.
The $13,777,920 bet at Belmont was the second-highest ever, trailing only the $14,461,402 in 2004 when Birdstone denied Smarty Jones the Triple Crown.
Total betting on the card, including bets from all locations across the country, was $96,485,985, third highest for a Belmont.
Mario Gutierrez took a bow in the Belmont Park winner's circle Saturday.
It wasn't the salute he had anticipated aboard I'll Have Another following the Belmont Stakes.
Gutierrez was presented a plaque hours before the Belmont by Carlos M. Sada, the consul general for Mexico based in New York, commemorating the wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
Gutierrez lost his chance for Triple Crown glory when I'll Have Another was retired Friday because of a tendon injury.
Gutierrez addressed the crowd in Spanish and English as part of the ceremony.
''Everyone wanted to come and see my horse and we were so excited for today,'' he said. ''Everything happens for a reason. We're not competing in the race anymore, but it's my pleasure to be here.''
Gutierrez, largely unknown before the Derby, later reflected on what I'll Have Another meant to his career.
''He's the one that brought us here,'' Gutierrez said. ''We have to take care of him. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here. He's given this to me. I've got the Kentucky Derby. I got the Preakness. No one can take it away. It will stay with me the rest of my life, thanks to I'll Have Another. He made that possible.''
Upon learning I'll Have Another was scratched from the Belmont, Gutierrez was prepared to pack up and go home to California. Trainer Doug O'Neill and owner Paul Reddam convinced him to ride out the weekend at Belmont.
''They said, 'No, we're sticking around' It's like every sport when something bad happens. You have to keep moving forward. This is my job. This is what I do.''
Before heading off to ride another race, Gutierrez reflected on what might have been.
''A lot of people didn't believe in him since the Santa Anita Derby, the Kentucky Derby,'' Gutierrez said. ''He proved them wrong. I know if he was 100 percent today, he would prove everybody wrong again.''
Rosie Napravnik finished fifth aboard Five Sixteen, the second-best finish by a female jockey in a Triple Crown race. Julie Krone won the 1993 Belmont Stakes aboard Colonial Affair.
Napravnik, the sixth woman to ride in a Triple Crown race, had the best finish in the Kentucky Derby when Pants On Fire was ninth last year. Patty Cooksey had the highest finish by a woman in the Preakness. She was sixth aboard Tajwa in 1985.
In 1970, Diane Crump became the first female jockey to ride in a Triple Crown race, guiding Fathom to 15th place in the Kentucky Derby.
Desert Blanc beat Papaw Bodie by a nose to cap a furious stretch battle in the $500,000 Manhattan Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
Desert Blanc got the nod in the photo finish for his first win in the two starts in the US. The 4-year-old trained by Chad Brown started his career in France with three wins in his first five outings.
Ramon Dominguez was aboard as Desert Blanc ran the 1-1/4 miles in 1:59.65, paying $14.80 to win.
Trinniberg shortened up in distance to score a pacesetting victory in the $400,000 Woody Stephens for 3-year-old sprinters.
He took an ambitious swing in the 1-1/4 mile Kentucky Derby, tracking the front-running Bodemeister in second before fading to 17th.
The Woody Stephens, at seven furlongs, was more to his liking. Willie Martinez gunned him to the front and Trinniberg was determined in the lane, holding off Currency Swap by 1-3/4 lengths. He improved to 4 for 9 for trainer Bisnath Parboo, paying $7.70 to win as the 5-2 favorite
Tapitsfly led all the way to take the $500,000 Just A Game Stakes for fillies and mares on the turf. Ramon Dominguez guided the gray 5-year-old to a 2-1/4 length score over Winter Memories for trainer Dale Romans. She paid $8.40 to win
Caixa Eletronica rallied to capture the $400,000 True North Handicap with Javier Castellano riding for trainer Todd Pletcher, paying $9.20 as the 7-2 choice. The race was marred by the breakdown in midstretch by Giant Ryan, the 2011 New York-bred Horse of the Year, in midstretch.
Teeth of the Dog, fifth in the Preakness, bounced back to win the $100,000 Easy Goer Stakes for 3-year-olds. Joel Rosario was aboard for trainer Michael Matz. He paid $6.10 to win as the 2-1 favorite.