I’ll Have Another proved the skeptics wrong by winning the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday in exactly the same way he won the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago.
The Kentucky-bred chestnut colt chased down pre-race favorite Bodemeister in the stretch crossing the finish line first by a neck. In the process, I'll Have Another kept alive hopes for horse racing’s first Triple Crown champion in more than three decades.
“More than anything, I’m glad I didn’t disappoint people,” said Mario Gutierrez, I’ll Have Another’s jockey. “Like I say, it’s not about me. It is about the horse. From day one, I’ve believed in him. I’m so happy for him because he’s just a great horse.”
Affirmed, in 1978, was the last colt to capture the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes in New York. This is the longest that horse racing has gone without a Triple Crown winner—33 years so far. I’ll Have Another gets his chance in three weeks at the Belmont.
While I’ll Have Another has won his last four races, he wasn’t the favorite in any of them. After the Derby two weeks ago, the opinion was that the race unfolded perfectly for the colt and the suggestion was that best horse may have not won at Churchill Downs.
So despite winning the Kentucky Derby, I’ll Have Another still was not the pre-race favorite for the Preakness.
The oddsmakers handed that distinction to Bodemeister at 8-5, even though the speedy Virginia-bred had been run down in the Churchill Downs stretch by the little-regarded I’ll Have Another.
I’ll Have Another was 5-2 in the Preakness early line and the public betting kept Bodemeister as the approximate 2-1 favorite when the 11-horse field left the Pimlico starting gate. I’ll Have Another was about 4-1 at the start of race.
Apparently I’ll Have Another hasn’t been following the odds because he preformed at the Preakness as he did in the Derby, staying behind Bodemeister who held the lead from the start.
By the time the field came into the stretch, the Preakness had become a two-horse race with I’ll Have Another closing. It was only strides before the finish line that the Derby winner chased down Bodemeister with the record Pimlico crowd of 121,309 in full throat. I’ll Have Another finished the 1 3/16 mile Preakness in 1 minute, 55.94 seconds, and paid $8.40 to win. Creative Cause, an earlier challenger to Bodemeister during the Preakness, finished third.
"What a ride," winning trainer Doug O’Neill said of Gutierrez’ handling of I’ll Have Another. "Mario was so patient. It’s incredible. … Bodemeister had to work to get where he was. He did slow it down, but I saw Mario get (I’ll Have Another) in stride in mid-stretch. I just had faith he was going to get there.”
For Bodemeister, with jockey Mike Smith, it was another disappointment and should I’ll Have Another go on to win the Triple Crown he would go on to take his place in racing history as a foil to greatness with Sham, the horse who was the loser to great Secretariat in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.
The last time a colt won the first two jewels of the Triple Crown was in 2008 when Big Brown went to the Belmont with a chance for racing immortality but he had a miserable outing in a race won by Da' Tara.
Breaking from the No. 9 post position, I’ll Have Another was in fourth place through the first half of the race moving up to third until Bodemeister and I’ll Have Another came around the final turn and headed into Pimlico’s long stretch run.
Bodemeister fought gamely but I’ll Have Another is a veteran of head-to-head challenges having won not only the Kentucky Derby also the Santa Anita Derby in stretch duels.
When I’ll Get Another gets to the Belmont in three weeks, he’ll have lots of tough competition waiting. I’ll Have Another’s connections expect Union Rags and Dullahan, both Kentucky Derby starters who skipped the Preakness, to be at the Belmont.
"He's never been favored," said J. Paul Reddam, one of I'll Have Another's owners said of the underrated colt. "And I think for those who follow the horse and bet on him, that will be pretty rewarding. I don't know if that will be the case the next time after today's race."