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Four Threats to I'll Have Another's Triple Crown Bid

Alpha with Ramon Dominguez wins the Grade III Withers at Aqueduct, 1 1/16 miles, 3 year olds.
Four of the most important factors in figuring out the 2012 Belmont Stakes are pedigree, current form, running style and jockey choice.  A horse with the right combination of these attributes can be lethal.  Let’s take a closer look at some of the threats that could ruin I’ll Have Another’s Triple Crown venture.
 
Every year race fans debate the running styles of the Belmont Stakes contestants. Which manner - front runner, pace presser, mid-pack runner or come from behind stalker - is the most favorable for winning the grueling 1 ½ mile Test of Champions?
 
After reviewing the last twenty-two editions of the Belmont Stakes, the conclusion was that one-run closers won eight of the races, with mid-pack runners taking six editions. Pace pressers presided over five races and only two pace setters were victorious on the front end. The 1997 running of the Belmont Stakes was not counted, due to the unusual running style of the winner, Touch Gold, who led in the early stages, took a breather in the stretch, then came on again to win.                                                                                 
 
Fourteen of the last twenty-one Belmont Stakes winners got into gear at the mile pole while the rest made their runs at the 1 ¼ mile pole. Last year’s Belmont champ Ruler On Ice was an anomaly. He didn’t have the pedigree to win the race, but he did benefit from a sloppy track that was kind to horses on or near the pace.  Ruler On Ice pressed the pace in second place before taking over in the stretch from an exhausted Shackleford.  If you recall, Shackleford was softened up from running fourth in the Kentucky Derby and winning the Preakness.    
 
Pedigree plays a large part in determining a Belmont Stakes winner.  A horse must be capable of making a strong, sustaining move after traveling a mile.  Although every colt entered in the Belmont Stakes has the potential to upset the applecart, some have a better chance than others.  Viewing the current entrants, I’ll Have Another faces five opponents with strong stamina oriented pedigrees and four contestants with borderline pedigrees to sustain their speed at 1 ½ miles.  Out of the nine potential rivals, the top four with current form to be serious threats to I’ll Have Another’s Triple Crown bid are as follows:   
 
ALPHA (Bernardini—Munnaya, by Nijinsky) has the pedigree to run all day. His young sire’s offspring have been successful at 1 ¼ miles over dirt and 1 ½ miles over the turf. In the Kentucky Derby, Alpha was once again victim of circumstances at the gate. He had a poor beginning, left fourteen lengths behind the front runners and was taken out of his pace pressing running style.  Alpha was second behind Union Rags in the Champagne Stakes last year at Belmont Park and he’s been working strongly.
 
DULLAHAN (Even the Score – Mining My Own, by Smart Strike) has a borderline pedigree for 1 ½ miles.  His sire Even The Score has produced one stakes winner at 1 ¼ miles, but none at farther distances. Dullahan does have strong stamina influences on his distaff side and the huge colt was closing fast in the stretch of the Kentucky Derby, so the potential to get 1 ½ miles is there.  Dullahan has strong current form but his one-run style may be compromised if the Belmont Stakes pace is slow.
 
PAYNTER (Awesome Again – Tizso, by Cee’s Tizzy) could well be I’ll Have Another’s most dangerous foe in the Belmont Stakes. He’s lightly raced and has the pedigree to handle 1 ½ miles.  The late-maturing colt’s sire Awesome Again was a ten furlong specialist, and won four times at 1 ¼ miles, including Canada’s prestigious Queen’s Plate, and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He’s sired one stakes winner at 1 ½ miles.  Paynter’s damsire Cee’s Tizzy is best known as the sire of two-time Classic hero Tiznow. His daughters haven’t produced a stakes winner past 1 1/8 miles, but Paynter is closely related to Tiznow, as his dam Tizso is a full sister to the stallion.  Additionally, Paynter’s distaff line is boosted by the presence of his second damsire, Seattle Song, winner of the now defunct Washington D.C. Invitational at 1 ½ miles. 
 
Paynter and I’ll Have Another have similar running styles. Both usually sit directly behind the pace, however, both colt have won on the lead as well.  Paynter has shown improvement in each of his four races. On Preakness day, Paynter outclassed a group of allowance runners by 5 ¾ lengths.
 
STREET LIFE (Street Sense - Stone Hope, by Grindstone) has improved in each of his starts since winning his debut in January.  By Kentucky Derby Champ Street Sense out of a mare by the 1996 Kentucky Derby hero, the late maturing Street Life should be in his element at 1 ½ miles. His dam is a half-sister to Jefferson Cup victor Brilliant.  Street Life was most recently third in the Peter Pan Stakes, beaten a narrowing 1 ¾ lengths by Mark Valeski. Like Dullahan, Street Life is a one run closer.
 
Besides pedigree and current form, a Belmont Stakes contender’s jockey choice is crucial.  Belmont Park is the only 1 ½ mile oval in the United States and experience over the oval can be a winning factor.  Jockey’s seldom have the opportunity to ride the 1 ½ mile distance. Given the huge track configuration of Belmont Park, it can be easy to misjudge when to make a winning move and the best part of the track to do so. 
 
Jockeys of other high profile Belmont runners have been a deciding factor in their mount’s winning chances. In the last twenty years, all except two winning jockeys, Jeremy Rose and the top Irish jockey Mick Kinane had previously ridden at Belmont Park. 
 
Good examples of inexperience that cost the race are the rides given to Smarty Jones in 2004, whose jockey sent him to the front at the mile pole and Mine That Bird who charged to the front after passing the mile pole but couldn't sustain his bid. Neither Stewart Elliot, the jockey of Smarty Jones, nor Calvin Borel, Mine That Bird's pilot, rode regularly at Belmont Park; however eleven of the last eleven Belmont Stakes champs all had ridden on the New York circuit or had previous Belmont Stakes experience.  Ruler On Ice’s jockey Jose Valdivia, Jr. also had familiarity riding at Belmont Park before his Belmont Stakes victory.
 
This year, I’ll Have Another appears to have almost everything going for him.  He has a stamina oriented pedigree and a pace presser/mid-pack running style. Reports indicate that he’s kept his body weight up and his coat is shiny, which is a good indicator that he should handle the physical demands of the Belmont Stakes.  The only drawback is that his jockey Mario Gutierrez has no acquaintance with Belmont Park’s 1 ½ mile oval.  So far, Mario Gutierrez has performed admirably in the biggest races of his career.  Hopefully, he’ll have a few mounts lined up before the Belmont Stakes to get a feel for the track.  It would be a huge disappointment for racing if I’ll Have Another’s Triple Crown attempt was denied due to jockey error during the race.
 
By HRN pedigree expert, Laurie Ross 
 

 

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Older Comments about Four Threats to I'll Have Another's Triple Crown Bid...

pedigree,LOL,You have to have a good trainer/Jockey to get the very best out of a horse,with out that pedigree dont mean anything !
  • JohnNicoletti1 · Whoa, wait a minute Terry. The greatest trainer, and jockey, cannot make a horse run one mile and a half. If the gene pool does not have distance there, forget about it. I owned thoroughbreds,and can tell you, we tested horses that we thought could run a distance of ground in spite of their pedigree, and it just does not work. You will find an exception, but normally, the blood lines overrule. · 1062 days ago
Over the years I've had my hopes dashed so many times by horses who won the Derby and the Preakness only to fall apart in the Belmont. Nobody knows what's going to happen until the starting gate opens on June 9th. And I'm not willing to crown IHA as the second coming of Secretariat unless he hits the finish line first that day.
This race no longer has horses like Stage Door Jhonny, real stayers. This race now comes down to survivors: who can get position and then outlast the others
aj.mindiola, READ the comment directly above you and then go to my profile It will say residence in NY, I'm also a great fan of Z, can you believe it. People like you are why wars happen, small minded and......
Most likely 85 pct of trainers do something illegal..dont be so sensitive. Why are you trying to diminish our triple crown hope..
this is 2008 all over again. nice horse paired with a druggie trainer. if i was o'neill, i'd be worried about the racing gods... he doesn't stand a chance.
also;; remember BAFFERT;; revenge;; PAYNTER can run all day;;; ran a good tightener;; he hates losing 3 straight to a cali horse;;
since there is no fast pacesetter, i would ride IHA to the front at 25 and 49 and then run these donkeys off their feet;; i only fear paynter to outlast IHA;;JMO
I will be the Team O'Neil's corner for this one but I do believe that a fresh Dullahan will be far more dangerous without a bucket of dirt and sand in his lungs. Kent's post race comments explained a lot about his trip in the Derby. Should he get a cleaner trip and eat less track, he will be very contentious in the stretch. Look for him to start picking up steam mid turn and without a wall of posers backing up, he will not be 8 wide. His slower half brother got the distance, but this guy is better. That said, best of luck to Mario, Mr. Reddam, Team O'Neil, and little Hope! A triple crown would be good for everyone, including those self-serving clowns on the CHRB.
Only thing I got from this is IHA is the biggest threat to any horse in the Belmont and for those coming into this field lightly raced they better be prepared for the run of their lives.
I swear all you eastcoast haters make me laugh..ILL HAVE ANOTHER WILL WIN THE TRIPLE CROWN.. Its great for horse racing just like ZENYATTA was!!!
One thing Little Red has going for him....his jockey's confidence level and he will be mentored by Jerry Bailey. Word is JB and Mario will cover the track for the race inch by inch. You can better believe Mario will be prepped, and with a few warm up races leading up to the Belmont Stakes, we should be treated to something pretty special come the afternoon of June 9. I'm beginning to believe in Mario and his horse more and more...they are a team, and, as Steve Cauthen said recently, Mario has the right kind of attitude to stand up to the pressures of running for all the marbles. Mario and his horse are going to go out and do what they have done all year: their best, and each has confidence in the other...if it's meant to be, it will be! I believe it is meant to be!
  • LaurieRoss · I believe The Mig, not Bailey will be traveling the track beforehand. · 1070 days ago
  • Ann Maree · I'll Have Another's team announced that Mario is being mentored by Jerry Bailey. · 1070 days ago
Wow. Some interesting choices in there but you forgot a few
  • LaurieRoss · Sally, I chose the horses with the best pedigrees/form to win, but I agree there are others that could finish in the money. · 1070 days ago
how many of them had raced 9.5f three weeks prior and 10f five weeks prior?
I see this race setting up with IHA having it all his own way on the lead. This young man has given IHA some rides that even the veteran riders would envy. I think he should do it but being around racing as long as I have I know the race isn't run on paper. Even if the odds don't permit a real bet I want a souvenir ticket even if it is from OTB.
Why do most think the fractions will be so slow? You have a couple of front runners who have mot much else going for them, at least records-wise beside early speed.
I think IHA can get the distance and I think Mario will be smart enough how to ride 1.5 miles, I am more worried about Dullahan, Union Rags or some other horse who is more rested
50- 114-140-204- 229... run your own race.. get there in under 230 and we have a triple crown winner.
you have never watched mario Gutierrez over any length of time....Good rider + good horse= good outcome
I think Mario can sit chilly.

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