Race of the Week 2017

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Zipse At The Track

I’ll Have Another would have won the Triple Crown

I wanted to wait a day to write this out of respect for a popular victory by Union Rags in the 2012 Belmont Stakes. The winner once again proved to be one of the best horses of his generation and fully redeemed himself for losses in the Florida and Kentucky Derbies. I was happy for Union Rags. He’s a nice horse, but it did not take me very long after the finish to come to the realization that a healthy I’ll Have Another would have cruised to victory yesterday.


I heard the Beyer figure came in at a 96 for Union Rags, confirming what I had already seen with my own eyes, that I’ll Have Another was too good for the field that competed in this year’s Test of a Champion. Union Rags had the entire stretch to get by a tiring Paynter but could not do so until the final few yards. Union Rags won the Belmont more with his class rather than a burst of speed down the lane as his challenger couldn’t muster anything better than a 52 second final half mile. Imagine what the race would have looked like if our Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner had not been scratched on Friday morning? Believe me, I have.


I picture I’ll Have Another sitting comfortably on the outside not too far behind the pacesetter with Mario Gutierrez waiting patiently to give him his cue. Somewhere on the far turn I’ll Have Another would have gotten the OK to go and quickly collared Paynter. Coming into the homestretch, a quarter mile from history, I have no doubt that the little chestnut would have spurted clear and would have opened up daylight as Union Rags could only rally for second.


His Santa Anita Derby was gutsy, at Churchill Downs he announced himself to the world, and in the Preakness he proved himself a star. Any of the three performances would have been plenty to carry him to victory in the Belmont, but a similar run to his last one could have seen a runaway Triple Crown for the colt bred to run long. I can only imagine what the scene at Belmont Park would have felt like yesterday if that was the case. The crowd would have transformed into one pulsating force of nature as I’ll Have Another’s cheers grew louder and louder with every stride down the Belmont Park stretch. It’s been 34 years since I saw the last Triple Crown winner in person, so that electricity would have been an exciting new sight to behold. 


Agree with me or not, no one will change my mind on this. I’ll Have Another would have been the horse to bust through racings long-standing barrier. Unfortunately, we are only left to wonder what if.


What if I’ll Have Another won the Belmont stakes by a big margin? What if the world of racing was able to celebrate a brand new Triple Crown winner? What if I’ll Have Another was around to race another year or two?


Congratulations to Union Rags, a worthy Belmont stakes winner, but wouldn’t it have been nice if we all could have had Another. 


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Older Comments about I’ll Have Another would have won the Triple Crown...

could have, would have, should have- the fact is he didn't, and anyone can make up hypothetical outcomes all day long using whatever "logic" they choose. the race is over.
  • logrezzio · Wow its amazing somebody on here actually pays attention. Ill Have Another had an easy KD closing into a fast pace. Then the same result in the Preakness both against the same horse. Bodemeister is a one dimensional horse against the right field cant beat him. How many horses have won 2 of 3 Triple Crown Races...too many. Thats the idea. Cant win all three unless your great. Great also means not getting injured...Get it? Pomdeterre realizes its all media hype for the Kentucky Derby winner which is a race of trips and racing luck...Street Sense won the KD and got nosed in the Preakness and never did anything again. The Belmont was slow and Ill Have Another would have never outclosed Union Rags. Ill Have Another has not proved he can close into a slow pace and people like Ragozin and other say he would have won....Who cares. Remember Smarty Jones and Birdstone? Birdstone was trapped in the back in the KD and then ran down Smarty in the Belmont...end of that story too. Union Rags has had bad racing luck because of jockey error..That has been eradicated. Only way Bodemeister can beat Rags is to get a good lead at a slow pace at a shorter distance. And as far as IHA just running as quick as he needed to win...obviously he ran too fast for himself cause he was over stressed and got hurt. · 2075 days ago
How about Bodemeister, he would have easily won the Belmont if he skipped the Preakness with his high cruising speed and IHA and him were both running away from the field so look for Bode to get the Haskell, Travers and be a force in the Breeders cup
Union Rags has been my no. 1 three yr old this year but I totally agree. IHA would now be the first triple crown winner since 1978, had he been healthy and ran.
IHA might have caught Paynter and maybe UR would have caught all of them or even Antigun might have surprise everyone. Who knows...but I think my point in his thread is that UR win and everything else is pure speculation.
IHA still wouldve caught him in the end. I guess we can agree to disagree
He may or May not..But maybe I can share some thing again. The race would have been different. Johnny is too Smart to Stalk Paynter if IHA was in there. My money is that everyone in the race would have been stalking IHA and let IHA go catch Paynter because it would have been his race to lose. Mario would have never let Paynter out of this site either because left on the lead with no pressure would mean that Paynter start to wire it.
Obviously there are no sure things in any part of life other than death and taxes. I am a fan and saying what I think. IHA ran as fast as he needed to to catch bode, I firmly believe he wouldve done the same to UR.
How true zxswordxz. My memory of locks on the TC who weren't start with Native Dancer
Let me share something to you about horse racing, Nothing and I mean Nothing is a sure thing. Many things can go wrong in a race that cost a horse to loose. Take UR in the Derby, Bump at the Start, Box in @ 18 position for 1 mile and finish 7th. At the one mile post, he was about 16 length back and finish 7 length back. You do the math. Here is some fun fact for you: IHA was 4 length back at the 1 mile mark.
If he had raced he wouldve won and become a legend like Man O War or Secreteriat.
Barbaro was preventable. As an owner I would have sued the pants off of the gat vet for not properly checking him out after he broke throuhg the gate. Many a har RAP on the leg can set up ligament damage that continues with stenuous weight bearing a few seconds later. Out vet, as a prcaution, ALWAYS scratched them if they hit the gate with any part of the leg, as a precaution and preventabtive maneuver.
I still think that UR has a lot more to learn and when he fill that big frame of his. We are going to see the best of him. FYI...Secretariat actually learn to run better in the fall of his 3 year old career. Which would have been scary if he did get to run as a 4 year old.
Exactly, zxs. Give UR an outside post, a decent pace to run behind, and a FULL stretch to accelerate and watch his beyers climb! UR reahes top speed in stages and goes thru a progression of gears to get there, like many big colts. The more ground he has to do this, the better! Kudos to him and Johnny V for getting thru that small opening at the 16th pole, but I still have to believe that UR's favorite route would be to the outside where he would feel more free. He is a big colt that takes a while to really get rolling full speed, but once he does, look out! ;-) Also, think he is still getting used to that big body of his, learning and understanding how to use it. So I doubt very much that we've seen the best of Union Rags and the aggressive, confident ride from Johnny V is so important for a horse who listens and waits for his pilot to give his command. A confident, aggressive rider will lead to a confident, aggressive UR in the future.
  • SteveHerron · Union Rags has no acceleration, Paynter was tiring. We're not left to wonder whether or not I'll Have Another was capable of beating UR because he already did beat him in the Derby. Speculating what would have happened AFTER a race has been run has a lot more foundation that doing so BEFORE. Given the pace scenario, there's no reason to believe IHA wouldn't have won. · 2080 days ago
We'll never know... thats the real sadness about it. It reminds me of Ruffian's Match Race. There was this video of Bill Nack talking about Ruffian and when he was talking about the Match Race, he said it was so unsatisfying and that he lost the romance that he had with the sport. That's how I feel, so unsatisfied. But we can all be thankful that I'll Have Another didn't run and that it wasn't a Charismatic, Barbaro, or even another Ruffian on us. That's what we need to be happy about. Now he will be happy at stud and enjoy the rest of his days at a farm where they will look after him with care and affection.
We are all saddened that we did not get to witness a triple crown this year, but to say IHA would have for sure 100% have won the Belmont is absurd. Like many said before, horse racing is different day to day. Who knows how IHA would have run, he could have gotten injured like Giant Ryan, been tired after running the Preakness when UR sat out and rested, could have not closed as easily as he did with Bodemeister's fast pace since Paynter ran a very slow pace, and who knows if Union Rags could have been bottled up on the rail the entire trip until the last 100 yards if IHA was running. Too many people are trying to discredit UR's run and I kind of wish now that IHA did run and UR beat him just so this horse could finally get some respect. So many complained that IHA didn't get any respect when he deserved it when they are the same ones not giving UR any respect now that he won the Belmont. Fact of the matter is IHA didn't run, UR did and won. Fair and square. Once that hole opened up he passed Paynter in a few strides and probably could have won by a lot more had the hole opened up sooner.
They are going on pure speculation. I think many of them are using the slow time to discredit UR victory but they forget that Paynter was the one setting the pace and Johnny was doing what all great jockey's does, positioning his horse and weighting for a chance to pounce on the leader.
I really don't get it. Why are so many people who KNOW BETTER staunchly saying IHA would have won? It's a horse race people! LMAO! Anything could have/and did happen! Whoda thunk that Big Brown would have PULLED UP in the stretch in 08???? I am so sorry that we all did not get to celebrate a Triple Crown victory this year, but PLEASE, do put things into perspective here & consider that anything can & does happen as a race unfolds! There is NEVER a guarantee that a horse that looks the best on paper WILL win!! Ask Dayjur. Also, ask IHA how many times he went up the rail to snatch a victory? God bless the ponies...You just never know WTH they are gonna do.. :)
Beyer speed ratings are and always were outdated as they only measure the final time against the track deviant not how the race was run.Union Rags made a tremendous run to catch and pass a horse that had it all his own way. As was pointed out by another commentator "loose on the lead is the best bet in racing." I wanted to make a point not steal your thunder T_V and that was the best way.
I'll Have Another losing the Belmont a nose would've been for more bearable than being left with the agonizing thought, "what if". After watching the Belmont several times it's even more difficult to think about what could have been. But alas, the show that is horse racing must go on. Thankfully I've got Bodemeister to root for!
Even though I'm on the Union Rags bandwagon & have been there since last fall, I have to agree that IHA probably would've won that race Saturday if he were 100%.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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