Archive for May 20th, 2012

Will I’ll Have Another Sweep Triple Crown?

I’ll Have Another will try to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978 when he runs in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 9.

I'll Have Another

Does I’ll Have Another have what it takes to win the Triple Crown? – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Since Spectacular Bid in 1979, eleven 3-year-olds have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness only to fail in their Triple Crown quest at Belmont Park.

Spectacular Bid appeared to be a slam dunk in the ’79 Belmont Stakes but received a questionable ride and finished 3rd. Pleasant Colony was also 3rd in his failed bid in 1981. Alysheba finished a disappointing 4th behind runaway winner Bet Twice in 1987. Easy Goer turned the tables on his arch rival Sunday Silence to deny history in 1989.

Touch Gold turned the tables on Silver Charm in 1997. Real Quiet moved too soon and Victory Gallop made him pay the price late in 1998. My value top Lemon Drop Kid spoiled Charismatic‘s party in 1999.

Big Brown

Big Brown was a big frown in 2008 Belmont Stakes – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

War Emblem faded to 8th while Sarava lit up the tote in 2002. My Derby top Empire Maker got sweet revenge on Funny Cide in 2003. I was never on the Smarty Jones bandwagon and was not surprised to see him go down to Birdstone in 2004. Finally, I was not a fan of Big Brown and expected him to go down in flames in 2008 but I was not smart enough to come up with Da Tara.

I did not start attending the races until 1980 so I just missed Spectacular Bid’s 3-year-old season, but I did see the last ten failed attempts and know how hard it is to complete the sweep with a win in the Test of Champions.

I’ll Have Another has a winning spirit, versatile running style, and a promising pedigree, but is that enough to complete a seemingly impossible task? History is not on his side.

Mario Gutierrez has been a huge asset up to this point, but so was Stewart Elliott aboard Smarty Jones until he was harassed by Rock Hard Ten (Alex Solis) and Eddington (Jerry Bailey) at Big Sandy. Kent Desormeaux jumped the gun in ’98 aboard Real Quiet and Gary Stevens and Victory Gallop tagged him late. Gutierrez has been a cool customer so far but the inexperienced pilot could get lost in the vastness of Belmont Park.

Ruler On Ice

Last year’s Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On ice – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Fresh, talented rivals also make the twelve furlong task a daunting one. Empire Maker, 2nd to Funny Cide in the 2003 Derby, skipped the Preakness and turned the tables on him in the Belmont. Birdstone did the same thing to Smarty Jones in 2005. The last six Belmont Stakes winners (Ruler On Ice, Drosselmeyer, Summer Bird, Da’  Tara, Rags To Riches, Jazil) did not run in the Preakness Stakes.

The most dangerous threat to I’ll Have Another is Union Rags. The Michael Matz trainee is a 3-time graded winner exiting back-to-back troubled trips under Julien Leparoux in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby. I have always thought that he was the most talented member of his generation and a clean trip is all he needs to prove me right. Look for Matz to reach out for an experienced NY rider for the Belmont Stakes.

Alpha is another interesting candidate and reminds me of last year’s Belmont Stakes runner-up Stay Thirsty. He owns tactical speed, is bred to run all day, and should get better with age. Kiaran McLaughlin won the 2006 Belmont Stakes with Jazil. This year’s Kentucky Derby show finisher Dullahan is also waiting in the wings.

Much will be written and said in the weeks leading up to the Belmont Stakes. I would like to see a Triple Crown winner as much as anyone and will be pleasantly surprised if history is made at Belmont Park on Saturday, June 9. Let the games begin!

Preakness Recap: I’ll Have Another Wins Again

In a virtual repeat of the Kentucky Derby, I’ll Have Another ran down Bodemeister to win Saturday’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

I'll Have Another

Will I’ll Have Another end the Triple Crown drought? – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Bodemeister set a controlled tempo as expected and briefly appeared home free in the lane but I’ll Have Another put in a relentless rally and stuck his neck out in deep stretch.

It was almost nine lengths back to show finisher Creative Cause.

I’ll Have Another completed his nine and one-half furlong journey in 1:55.94 and paid $8.40 as the second betting choice. Once again, Mario Gutierrez rode the son of Flower Alley perfectly for Reddam Racing and trainer Doug O’Neill.

Bodemeister was game in defeat and has accomplished so much this year for trainer Bob Baffert. The Preakness was his third start in the last five weeks and he is not expected to contest the Belmont Stakes.

I’ll Have Another will attempt a Triple Crown sweep in the Belmont Stakes on June 9. If he pulls it off he would be the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

Let’s recap the entire Preakness field…

1st – I’ll Have Another: Ran down Bodemeister again. He has won four straight and goes for Triple Crown at Belmont on June 9.

2nd – Bodemeister: Looked home free but once again he ran out of gas late. He has been very busy this year and has earned a rest.

3rd – Creative Cause: Did all of the pace dirty work and could not match strides with the top two. He is another in need of a break.

4th – Zetterholm: NY-bred ended up an okay 4th for Dutrow. I would not be shocked if he showed up in the Belmont Stakes.

5th – Teeth of the Dog:  Second stringer for Matz ran about as well as expected and remains a few notches below the best.

6th – Optimizer: Has now dropped eight straight on conventional dirt. He clearly prefers turf or synthetic.

7th – Cozzetti: G2 Tampa Bay Derby show finisher remains eligible for an entry level spot. Lone win in slop at CD.

8th – Tiger Walk: Stalked and faded on Saturday. Graduated on turf and could end up back on that footing.

9th – Daddy Nose Best: Has won on dirt, synthetic, and turf so Asmussen has plenty of options in the coming months.

10th – Went The Day Well: Motion trainee barely lifted a hoof. He handles any ground and is much better than he showed today.

11th Pretension: NY-bred needs a much easier spot.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 546 other followers