An exciting Triple Crown rivalry was born Saturday in the
Preakness Stakes. I’ll Have Another, ridden masterfully by California
handicappers’ secret weapon Mario Gutierrez, let Bodemeister and Mike Smith
have it their own way winging it on the lead throughout much of the race.
I’ll Have Another was four wide following Bodemeister
around the first turn. Throughout the early stages, Gutierrez kept
I’ll Have Another in the clear on the outside in fourth place, about a two
lengths behind the reasonable fractions set by Bodemeister. Around the far
turn, Gutierrez made a winning move by angling to the rail to save ground. At the top of the stretch, Bodemeister set
down for the drive and spurted away with his usual quick acceleration. For a
few yards, it looked like a replay of the Kentucky Derby as Bodemeister
sprinted away to a three length lead and appeared well on his way to winning
the race. However, I’ll Have Another,
having saved precious ground, was hot on his heels, closing with every
step. In the final furlong, the two foes
battled it out to the wire. In a thrilling conclusion, I’ll Have Another won
the Preakness Stakes by a long neck over the once again courageous Bodemeister.
The 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes bring to mind
the heroic actions by the last Triple Crown hero Affirmed. Although their running styles were different,
both Affirmed and I’ll Have Another won their respective Triple Crown legs by
the exact same distance over the same rivals. Affirmed held on in the Kentucky
Derby to win by 1 ½ lengths over his gallant foe Alydar, and took the Preakness
Stakes by a neck, besting the same opponent. I’ll Have Another cut into
Bodemeister’s lead in the Kentucky Derby, winning by 1 ½ lengths and the
Preakness Stakes was decided by a neck victory.
With the Triple Crown on the line for the first time since
2008, the question on everyone’s lips is “Can he do it again?” Does I’ll Have Another have the pedigree and
running style to win the Belmont Stakes, or will he emulate another Kentucky
Derby/Preakness victor, Real Quiet, and lose the Belmont by the slimmest of
margins, to Bodemeister or a newcomer?
Both I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister have stamina oriented
pedigrees. I’ll Have Another’s young
sire Flower Alley never attempted 1 ½ miles. However, his sire Distorted Humor
has given us 2010 Belmont Stakes hero Drosselmeyer and four other stakes winners
at 1 ½ miles. So far, Flower Alley
appears to be passing along stamina genes to his offspring.
I’ll Have Another’s damsire Arch is a young stallion. He’s produced two stakes winners at 1 ½ miles.
I’ll Have Another’s second damsire Pleasant Tap is the broodmare sire of stakes
winners at 1 ½ miles as well, so there are no issues pedigree wise for getting
Bodemeister’s sire Empire Maker ruined Funny Cide’s bid for
Triple Crown glory in 2003. Currently, the
young stallion has sired only one winner at 1 ½ miles, but since it’s a seldom
carded distance, this isn’t surprising. As a broodmare sire, Storm Cat is represented by four stakes winners at
the Belmont Stakes distance.
I’ll Have Another’s running style benefited him in both the
Kentucky Derby and Preakness. The colt normally prefers to sit within a couple
of lengths of the front runners, but he showed a new dimension in the Derby,
sitting as far back as eight lengths off of the lead before making his move
around the far turn. I’ll Have Another
shows maturity and appears to be quite tractable, meaning that his jockey could
probably place him anywhere in the race and still win. This versatile running style will be the key
to winning the Belmont Stakes.
Research shows that mid-pack runners and pace pressers have
combined to win eleven of the last twenty-two editions of the Belmont Stakes. One
run stalkers have been successful eight times, while only two front runners
At this point, the Belmont Stakes is shaping up with few
horses that have the pedigree to handle 1 ½ miles. It’s true that last year’s Belmont hero Ruler
On Ice had a poor stamina oriented pedigree, however, he benefited from a
sloppy track that wasn’t kind to closers. His win was an anomaly. If Bob Baffert doesn’t send Bodemeister for a
rematch, the silver-haired trainer could send the rapidly developing Paynter,
who like Bodemeister, is owned by Zayat Stables.
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, winning Canada’s prestigious Queen’s Plate, Hawthorne Gold Cup,
Saratoga’s Breeders’ Cup Handicap 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. On Preakness day, Paynter outclassed
a group of allowance runners by 5 ¾ lengths.
I’ll Have Another is racing’s best hope of a Triple Crown
hero since Big Brown and Smarty Jones.
He hasn’t shown the brilliance of Smarty Jones or Big Brown, but
instead, compares favorably to Real Quiet and our last Triple Crown victor,
Affirmed. I’ll Have Another has the
pedigree, running style and toughness to win the Triple Crown. All he needs is
another brilliant ride by Mario Gutierrez.
--Laurie Ross, HRN Pedigree Expert