I'll Have Another Prevails At Pimlico
By Jason Butt
BALTIMORE -- Ladies and gentlemen, a Triple Crown challenger has emerged.
Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another was once again victorious during the 137th running of the Preakness Stakes, barely beating out Bodemeister for the second consecutive race.
When I'll Have Another heads to New York in three weeks for the Belmont Stakes, the twice-jeweled horse could become the first horse to win all three races since Affirmed accomplished the feat in 1978. The 34 years since the sport has had a Triple Crown victor is the longest drought in racing history.
"I haven't thought past today," said J. Paul Reddam, I'll Have Another's owner. "I just didn't let myself do it. I just can't imagine it, so we'll let it go at that. We'll go one day at a time."
Around the final turn and into the last leg, Bodemeister held a lead against Creative Cause and I'll Have Another, respectively, and appeared destined to sprint out to a Preakness win. Bodemeister kicked his motor into a high gear and bolted toward the finish. It was enough to cause Reddam to feel a tad pessimistic about his horse's chances -- at least momentarily.
"I knew it was a long stretch," Reddam said, "and I have to say there was a point where I didn't think we were going to get there. [I'll Have Another] kept digging and Bodemeister was running his guts out. It was a fantastic race, and I didn't feel confident we were going to get there until about 10 yards from the wire."
Sensing the urgency, I'll Have Another made his move, just as he did on May 5 in the Kentucky Derby.
Jockey Mario Gutierrez calmly gave his Chestnut colt the signal to finish strong. I'll Have Another, the offspring of Flower Alley and Arch's Gal Edith, did just that, winning by a neck against the favorite to win the race.
"He has a tremendous kick in the end," Gutierrez said.
I'll Have Another won the race, which is 1 3/16 miles long, in 1:55.90. He paid out $8.40, $3.80 and $2.80 (Bodemeister paid $3.20 and $2.80 and Creative Cause paid $3.60 to show.)
Creative Cause, who was a semi-sleeper for the Preakness, was left in the dust, finishing nine lengths behind I'll Have Another.
I'll Have Another is also just the fourth horse to win the Preakness from the No. 9 post, and the first to win at that position since Funny Cide did in 2003.
The spotlight began to shine on I'll Have Another after his Derby win. That figures to only magnify during the next three weeks at the Belmont Stakes June 9. This is the first time a horse will have a shot at a Triple Crown since Big Brown in 2008. Big Brown didn't fare well on the longer Belmont track (1 1/2 miles), finishing ninth after winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness by considerable margins.
I'll Have Another's trainer Doug O'Neill, who told reporters two weeks ago that a C-student in high school had just won the Kentucky Derby, said he was looking forward to the added attention his crew would receive.
"We just have a really good atmosphere around the barn," O'Neill said. "That helps a ton to keep everything really loose, for me and the horses and the staff."
Gutierrez, who possessed a calm demeanor while riding I'll Have Another, is hoping to push away any pressure felt while he gears up for another ride at the Belmont Stakes.
"I want to put the pressure on the side," Gutierrez said. "The horse deserves the credit. He's earned all this. He never got a lucky trip. He's proven a lot of people wrong. I just have to prepare. I want to be on the same level as him. He's an amazing horse. I'm just happy to be riding him."
I'll Have Another has shown an ability to stay controlled, yet within the race, before turning his motor up a notch when dashing to the finish line. The lengthy Belmont track could slow Bodemeister as he reaches the end line, considering he's a pace-setter, who's been caught from behind during each of the last two races.
I'll Have Another, assuming his stamina and shape aren't compromised after these past two races, will likely be the favorite for the Belmont Jewel. But the horse's health is something O'Neill isn't worried about, considering he placed good faith his horse that he could make a run for the Triple Crown.
"Though we didn't want Bodemeister to get a super easy lead, we didn't want to gun our horse and take our horse out of his game either," O'Neill said. "I think at the end of the day (Gutierrez) felt very comfortable and super confident in his horse and his ability to get the best run out of him. That's what he did. He just rode it the way it unfolded."
In this race, though, I'll Have Another stayed closer to Bodemeister throughout than he did at the Kentucky Derby. This strategy was based on the shorter track at Pimlico than the one at Churchill Downs. Staying near Bodemeister sooner paid off, as it might've been too little, too late otherwise.
Just as he did during the Kentucky Derby, Bodemeister used his speed to jump out to an early lead around the first turn. Trailing him on the inside was Creative Cause, with Pretension and I'll Have Another in third and fourth.
Creative Cause gained inside position and rode behind Bodemeister for the majority of the race. For the majority of the race, it looked as if Bodemeister would take home the title.
"I thought he was going to do it," said Bob Baffert, Bodemeister's trainer.
When the horses approached the final turn, I'll Have Another jumped ahead of Pretension, who had begun to slip behind the field. Once the race was neck-and-neck between Bodemeister and I'll Have Another, it became clear there were only two horses in a similar league in this year's Preakness. And thus far, I'll Have Another is 2-0 against his rival.
"The winner's a good horse," Baffert said. "He should get the respect he deserves."
1. I'll Have Another
3. Creative Cause
5. Teeth of the Dog
8. Tiger Walk
9. Daddy Nose Best
10. Went the Day Well
Posted May 19, 2012