Well, the 137th Preakness Stakes which was run on May 19, 2012 has come and gone. The budding rivalry between the Kentucky Derby winner, I’ll Have Another, and Derby runner up Bodemeister lived up to the hype. Bodemeister’s trainer Bob Baffert told jockey Mike Smith to “eat his Wheaties” because Bodemeister wanted to go on the lead, and to get the horse to slow down, because they “went too fast” in the Kentucky Derby.
Would Bodemeister be able to go gate to wire or would I’ll Have Another, and his jockey, Mario Gutierrez, a budding overnight sensation of a jockey, and his trainer, Doug O’Neill once again rule the day? Well, when the gates opened, Bodemeister got to the front, and set slightly slower fractions while I’ll Have Another sat near the front, but in mid pack. When they turned for home, I’ll Have Another went past eventual third place finisher Creative Cause and started to bear down on Bodemeister. It did look like Bodemeister was going to hang on. After all, he had everything his own way, but like in the Derby, it was not to be, as I’ll Have Another drew alongside and beat Bodemeister by a neck. I’ll Have Another is now one race away from horse racing’s immortality, the Triple Crown, and that race is the mile and a half Belmont which will be run at Belmont Park, in Elmont, NY on June 9th.
The horse that accomplishes this amazing feat has to be really special, and has to be a truly great horse, and only eleven horses total have done it. On the other hand, twenty one others total, several of which who also are considered great horses, have entered the Belmont with a chance to win the Triple Crown, but unfortunately failed in their bid to win the Crown. Horse racing has seen other horses, for example, Afleet Alex have bad luck in the Kentucky Derby (2005), only to go on to win the Preakness and the Belmont.
Another example of this is the 2001 Horse of the Year, Point Given who got cooked in a torridly hot pace in the 2001 Derby and wound up fifth, and then won the Preakness and Belmont. One wonders what might have been. However, with I’ll Have Another, fans only will have to be concerned whether he will be in the first two categories: Triple Crown winner, or Triple Crown Miss.
The last horse to win the Triple Crown was Harbor View Farm’s Affirmed in 1978. He was ridden by an 18 year old jockey named Steve Cauthen, nicknamed “The Kid.” The late Laz Barrera was Affirmed’s trainer. The horse prepared for the Derby in California in prep races such as the Santa Anita Derby. As a 2 year old, the horse was in an intense rivalry with Calumet Farm’s Alydar, trained by John Veitch, and ridden by Jorge Velasquez. Alydar would prep for the Derby via the Flamingo Stakes, the Florida Derby, and the Bluegrass Stakes. The two horses met a total of ten times, with Affirmed winning seven out of the ten, including all three Triple Crown races. The best of the series was the Belmont Stakes where Affirmed won by a head. In the victories over Alydar, Affirmed usually won by very close margins (neck, nose etc).
Ever since, racing fans have been waiting for the next Triple Crown winner. As I said, there were those who won it , and those who attempted it, but lost it in the Belmont. The horses who have won the Triple Crown are Sir Barton (1919) Gallant Fox (1930) , Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937) , Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), and Affirmed (1978).
The question is that I’ll Have Another needs to answer is “Can he join these great horses?” Another question is “Is I’ll Have Another” good enough? Well, so far, he acts like he can handle this group of three year olds. Let’s face it. In the Preakness, Bodemeister had everything his way, so I didn’t find any excuse for Bodemeister. I’ll Have Another is just on another level. Bodemeister will be skipping the Belmont to take a break to return in the Haskell. I believe Baffert will be bringing Paynter for the Belmont. Union Rags will have a new jockey, John Velasquez.
I will have to learn more about the new shooters before making my official selection, but as of now, I am pretty confident I’ll Have Another is good enough to win the Belmont. Given that racing has had some bad luck lately, I think if I’ll Have Another wins, this sport will get some well deserved good publicity.
Nevertheless, there is a lot of pressure that the horse, and his connections are facing, especially his young jockey, Mario Gutierrez who has been thrown into the spotlight. The New York press and the whole racing world will be watching on June 9 to see if history can be made. It would be a great thing for the sport.
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/missedgehead