Race of the Week 2017

Unconventional could lead to Triple Crown glory

Who has ever watched the movie Seabiscuit? One of my favorite lines was “Our jockey’s too big. Our horse is too small. Our trainer is too old, and I’m too dumb to know the difference.” That was true to a degree in real life. The Biscuit was too small, his jockey was too big, and his trainer was certainly no spring chicken. He wasn’t high priced, he didn’t have the perfect look, but somehow Biscuit became one of racing’s most famed horses, even beating a Triple Crown winner in War Admiral.
I’ll Have Another isn’t the biggest horse racing today. His trainer isn’t one with the cleanest record. His jockey isn’t the most experienced in the big leagues. Yet the son of Flower Alley has managed to take two-thirds of the Triple Crown. In a week and a half I’ll Have Another will attempt what has not been accomplished in over three decades. He will attempt to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed.
The odds are stacked against him, there is no doubt. All I have heard are reasons as to why there is no way this colt cannot take the 2012 Belmont Stakes. He doesn’t have the speed, the jockey will be fooled into making a premature move, he won’t be fit enough, he won’t be fresh enough….the list goes on and on and on. The Biscuit had the odds stacked high against him in the match race. Heck, he was going against a much faster horse, a horse who won the Triple Crown. He was not supposed to win, and yet somehow he did. People, there will always be reasons as to why a horse can’t win, however a great horse overcomes them.
I’ll Have Another had the 19 post in the Kentucky Derby, a post that was supposedly a detriment. He was coming off a 4 week layoff, where he fought tooth and nail to beat Creative Cause in the Santa Anita Derby. Before that race he had a seven week layoff. His turn around for the Derby was three weeks shorter, making him a prime bounce candidate. That didn’t happen, as I’ll Have Another surged past Bodemeister to win the Derby by one and a half lengths.
If he was supposed to bounce before the Derby, then one really had to speculate how high his chances of bouncing were in the Preakness, in which he was wheeled back on only two weeks rest. Also, he faced Bodemeister again, who would have a pace set up much slower than the one he received in the Kentucky Derby. Did this matter, for a good portion of the stretch it looked like it did as Bodemeister fought like a bulldog protecting a ham steak. But in the final yards I’ll Have Another found another gear, to nail his nemesis by a short neck. I’ll Have Another has proven himself to be a horse that overcomes.
One of the most common reasons I hear as to why I’ll Have Another will fail in the Belmont is his jockey. Mario Gutierrez has never ridden at Belmont Park, one of the most deceiving tracks due to its long sweeping turns. Most jockey’s get fooled into making an early move. However, answer me this, prior to Derby week or Preakness week, had Gutierrez ever ridden at either Pimlico or Churchill Downs? No, and yet he still rode flawless races that led his mount to victory. He studies the track, he rides the week prior to get a feel for the track, and so far that strategy has worked every time. I have no doubt that when the time comes for I’ll Have Another to answer the big question, his jockey will not be the one at fault.
Reason number two. I’ll Have Another will not be fresh enough to withstand the onslaught of Kentucky Derby returnee’s Dullahan and Union Rags, both who have five weeks rest. Remember earlier when, I noted that I’ll Have Another had a seven week layoff leading up to the Santa Anita Derby? Well, that may be one of the very reasons he remains fresh enough for the Belmont. He had two gut wrenching races in the Derby and Preakness you say? That is true, however, in order to save his horse Doug O’Neill has publicly announced I’ll Have Another will not have any “works” leading up to the Belmont. Unconventional as that may seem, remember that this horse has had three tough races prior to the Belmont, and during his one extended layoff he worked a mile once, seven furlongs twice and six furlongs once. After the Santa Anita Derby he worked twice more, both were six furlongs. I’ll Have Another has a fortified foundation underneath of him, and is a dead fit horse, he does not need another speed burning work, and I think that the absence of works will help this horse keep fresh enough to stay at the level he was at during the Derby and Preakness.
Great horses aren’t made by avoiding risks. This horse has had an unconventional path all the way through the Triple Crown. Sometimes unconventional works, it did for Biscuit, and has for several other horses. Unconventional, out of the ordinary, whatever you wish to call it, may be the very reason I’ll Have Another could sweep the Triple Crown.


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Older Comments about Unconventional could lead to Triple Crown glory...

Mario has a mount on june 8th for O'Neil in the Brooklyn Handicap which is run at the belmont distance.
One this is certain Mario will ride IHA as hard as possible.. The triple crown on the line that ..he may need a new whip after this race
Its called GAMBLING ladies and gentlemen, and every major news station , every handicapper, is touting I'll Have Another . Saying he is going to win and actually winning depends on hundreds of factors . Every heard of sick, injury, accident, hitting knee when gate opens ,getting blocked , shut off on the rail, carried wide into turn losing the Jock, dropping the whip, etc. ? Of course we all heard of that but because we want a triple crown winner we dismiss all the reasons how he can lose and search for all the reasons he can easily win . I remember wagering with a bookie on Ruffian , and she got hurt leaving the gate and died . Even Leroy Jolley the trainer of Foolish Pleasure thought she would win . A two horse race folks . Think about that before you sell the farm to wager on I'll Have Another . Thats why its called gambling !
Head banging time. I meant that Belmont can get a jock riled up and anxious WHEN HE IS RIDING THE NEXT TRIPLE CROWN WANNABE. My proof is I am a human, and if I was him I would get anxious. And being smart and saying "But you aren't him" won't help you.
QUOTE:Belmont riles up jocks, even the best can get a little anxious. And you have this on first hand authority? Been to the jocks room and talked to them. You wouldn't know what to ask IF you got there....Ignorance means filling in the lines of what you don't know with BALONEY
I don't think the nasal strip will be a huge deal to be honest. The horse doesn't train with it and goes just fine. O'Neill also has said he uses it on most of his horses, meaning that IHA may not wear it out of necessity at all. I also doubt Mario will get riled. He could have gotten very rattled during the Derby, a race that really tests the nerves of both horse and rider, and he did not. He has a cool head.
Wel, the horse has to fast enough to do that, get out early and take the lead and strong enough to hold on to it. In Seabiscuit's case he was re-trained to break faster than War Admiral . You know the rest of the story--the jockey let the Admiral catch up, then Seabiscuit put him away in the stretch, having the stamina and will to do so.
bronze, match races prove nothing. THe horse who goes to the front wins, Seabiscuit went to teh front.
GeorgeVietze, Just read that Lava Man will be allowed to stay with IHA in the Stakes Barn. That's great!!
Seabiscuit proved in that match race that he was faster than War Admiral.
What do the wagering odds have to do with the obstacles he faces, Matt? DeadHeat makes some very good points, and Steve has a great idea.
Nothing but a bunch of straw man agruments. You say "The odds are stacked against him," but isn't it true that in the real wagering he'll be odds-on to win?
horses not trainers run these races last time I looked the trainers are up in the grandstands
Belmont riles up jocks, even the best can get a little anxious.
  • GeorgeVietze · Nasa; strip change, barn change, no Lava Man? If this horse overcomes these changes · 2002 days ago
  • GeorgeVietze · Nasa; strip change, barn change, no Lava Man? If this horse overcomes these changes he will be a proven champion for all time! · 2002 days ago
ruffian75, that was also my take on Smarty's Belmont. I remember Woody sending 49er on a suiciadal run and this seems no different. Good point
Very good points, DH, as always. Good to read your new blog. I don't think IHA is unbeatable, but I do think he has the most going for him in the Belmont and his team's methods, which you stated very well, have given him the best opportunities for his natural abilities to result in victory.
My recollection of Smarty's Belmont, was not laying blame on Elliott, but, wondering why Pletcher sent Bailey on Eddington up front with Smarty, compromising Eddington's late run-of-foot. Kinda reminded me of Woody Stephens vowing to take out Winning Colors in the Preakness, even if it meant compromising his horse's chances.
Steve - you're exactly right. That's what they should do.
Want I'll Have Another to win the TC? Here is what you do. You get Mario Gutierrez a mount in the Brooklyn the day before. 1m 1/2, same distance. If I'm the trainer or owner, I am getting a horse in there that he can ride so he can see exactly what it is like making that turn for home, and not doing what Stewart Elliott did on Smarty jones. Sending him just to soon.
I was all for Union Rags, but that was not to be. I'll Have Another deserves to win the Belmont and I hope he does . Wouldn't it be exciting????

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