Picture if you will this year’s Arkansas Derby. A loose on the lead Bodemeister looks stronger with every pole he passes. By the time the field hits the lane, it was only a matter of by how much the powerful son of Empire Maker would win. Three, five, seven … Bodemeister won by as much as he wanted. It was the breakout performance that showed the world what kind of talent he is, and it also earned him favoritism in the Derby.
Now do the same for the Preakness, only take I’ll Have Another out of the equation. You know what? It’s exactly the same. Bodemeister does all the early running, and when either Secret Circle or Creative Cause makes their presence known on the far turn, Bodemeister shrugs them off with disdainful ease. Creative Cause, taking the role of the Oaklawn Secret Circle, has little trouble holding the rest of the field at bay, but loses ground every step of the stretch to the overpowering winner. Bodemeister wins by nine … again. But of course, that’s not how it went down, I’ll Have Another was very much part of that Preakness field.
It’s hard to believe it has only been eight days since the 2012 Preakness. I consider it the best race I’ve seen since the Blame-Zenyatta epic of 2010, and it has been on my mind every day since. I’ve tried to let the excitement of what I saw die down a little in my mind before I talked about the effort of I’ll Have Another. I’ve waited long enough.
What this young chestnut colt accomplished in the Preakness was special. Whether or not you agree with me that Bodemeister is a bit of a freak, and whether or not you feel that this is the best group of sophomores we’ve seen in America since 2007, as I do, you must give credit where credit is due.
The toughest thing is racing to do is run down a good speed horse when they have no reason to be coming back to the pack, and what’s more, do it all on your own. It would have been one thing if two or three of the horses came running, and I’ll Have Another proved best of the bunch, but that was not the case in racing’s Middle Jewel. Mario Gutierrez and I’ll Have Another had every right to edge by Creative Cause, while saying no mas to the speed, power, and race set-up for Bodemeister, thereby ending any thoughts of a Triple Crown winner. I mean that is really what should have happened.
Any thought of a Bodemeister bounce after his big performances in the Arkansas Derby and Kentucky Derby were quickly thrown out the window, as he broke on top and carved out moderate fractions with little to no pressure. He was running strong and free. To the experienced eye, it looked like it could be an early game, set, and match. And from there, the Baffert runner did everything his supporters could have possibly hoped for, but for one brave horse that made it simply not good enough.
109 Beyer, negative 2 on the Thoro-Graph sheets, no matter how you slice it, the Preakness performance was huge. I thought it was the best performance in a Triple Crown race in several years. It was far more impressive than his win in the Derby. But the numbers don’t matter, nor do my words, just watch the Preakness one more time. Watch it while pretending I’ll Have Another is not in the race. Bodemeister’s performance would be talked about in the most glowing terms.
Then place yourself in the mind and the heart of I’ll Have Another, as you take off from the rest of the pack, and you give every ounce of talent, strength, and oxygen you can muster to run down a horse that should not have lost. I still get goosebumps just thinking about it.