Preakness Winner Set to Make Run at Triple Crown
In a finish that was quite similar to that of the Kentucky Derby's two weeks earlier, I'll Have Another ran down the favored Bodemeister in the final furlong May 19 to win the 137th Preakness Stakes by a neck and keep alive his chase of horse racing's Triple Crown.
If the chestnut colt wins the Belmont Stakes on June 9th, he would become the first thoroughbred since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Triple Crown. The last horse to earn a chance by winning both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness was Big Brown in 2008.
Purchased for only $35,000, I'll Have Another has never been favored in a race. On Saturday at Pimlico Race Course, despite his Kentucky Derby win, he was still not the favorite. That label belonged to Bodemeister the horse deemed to have superior speed and taught by Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert.
With his immeasurable determination, long stride, and outstanding kick, I'll Have Another has proven there are no holes in the great track record he has compiled since February.
This year, he has run four races and won them all. In each race the unheralded Mario Gutierrez has been aboard. The 25-year-old jockey has refused to take any credit away from the horse he admires.
"It's not about me, it's about the horse," Gutierrez said. "I'm so happy for him because he's just a great horse. He has a tremendous kick in the end. And he's smarter than I am. The horse deserves the credit."
Bodemeister, who led most of the way, finished second. Creative Cause was third which delivered a 1-2-3 sweep for California-based horses.
On a glorious May afternoon, with temperatures in the low-80s, and sun-drenched skies, the Pimlico grounds drew a record crowd of more than 121,000 people. The handle for the event, $80.46 million, was the sixth largest in Preakness history.
As I'll Have Another was coming down the stretch, his trainer, Doug O'Neill, began to yell at the top of his lungs. When the Preakness-winning horse crossed the finish line, he threw his hat into the stands in jubilation.
O'Neill, 43, is among the sport's more controversial and charismatic personalities. He has been the sport's public face since winning the Derby despite the possibility of a potential 180-day suspension for a failed test by one of his horses, who was found to have elevated levels of carbon dioxide, a performance enhancer, in his system.
Over the last six years, O'Neill has had four such violations. He has a great horse and a great jockey, and with a little luck, I'll Have Another could win the Triple Crown.