BALTIMORE — I’ll Have Another had Bodemeister in his sights again, a shot at the Triple Crown hanging in the balance.
Two weeks ago, he ran down his rival and won the Kentucky Derby. This time, the chestnut colt needed to be even more relentless to win the Preakness.
Jockey Mario Gutierrez asked for more at the top of the stretch, and I’ll Have Another closed the gap with each stride, surging past Bodemeister a few yards from the wire.
Next up: New York and the Belmont Stakes in three weeks and a chance to join the company of Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed, who was the last to win thoroughbred racing’s most coveted prize in 1978.
That’s heady company for a colt who has yet to be favored in any of his seven races. That should change in the Belmont.
“We’re thinking Triple Crown, baby,” elated winning trainer Doug O’Neill said. “He’s a special horse. We’ll see how he comes out of it, and if he comes out of it in good shape, we’re heading to New York, baby.”
I’ll Have Another won by 1½ lengths in the Derby and by a neck in the Preakness – the same margins Affirmed posted in wins over rival Alydar in those two races 34 years ago.
But there’s one big storyline difference this time: Bodemeister is skipping the Belmont. “He’s getting off the bus here,” trainer Bob Baffert said.
The 1 3-16-mile Preakness unfolded the same way as the 1¼-mile Derby, with the speedy Bodemeister moving to the lead under Mike Smith and I’ll Have Another hanging back in fourth in the 11-horse field. The early fractions were slower than the Derby, but when it came time for Bodemeister to dig in, it was I’ll Have Another who found another gear under Gutierrez and reeled in the tiring pacesetter in the shadow of the wire.
As usual, owner Paul Reddam wasn’t sure his colt would come through this time.
“I didn’t feel confident we were going to get there until 10 yards from the wire,” Reddam said. “I wasn’t sure that we would get there, but I knew that our horse had a lot of heart and a lot of fight.”
WI’ll Have Another could have plenty of company for the Belmont, including some familiar foes from the Derby: third-place finisher Dullahan and seventh-place finisher Union Rags.