I’ll Have Another defeated favorite Bodemeister in the Preakness Stakes to become the first colt in four years with a chance to win the Triple Crown in thoroughbred racing.
Affirmed was the most recent Triple Crown winner in 1978. Big Brown won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 2008, then finished ninth in the Belmont Stakes.
I’ll Have Another, the second favorite at 3-1, crossed the finish line a neck ahead of Bodemeister yesterday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore after making his move from third place with one furlong to go in the 1 3/16-mile race.
“We’re thinking Triple Crown, baby,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “If he comes out in good shape, we’re headed to New York.”
I’ll Have Another won the Kentucky Derby as the 15-1 betting choice.
Since Affirmed, 11 horses have failed to win the Belmont Stakes after taking the first two legs of the Triple Crown series. Sunday Silence, Silver Charm, Real Quiet and Smarty Jones came in second, while Spectacular Bid, Pleasant Colony, Charismatic and Funny Cide were third. Big Brown, at ninth, and War Emblem, at eighth, had the worst showings.
I’ll Have Another will try to become the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown since Sir Barton won the title in 1919. The colt is undefeated in four starts in the 2012 campaign, including the Robert B. Lewis Stakes and Santa Anita Derby as well as the first two legs of the Triple Crown.
“He’s still a lightly raced horse and I think he can do it,” O’Neill said.
I’ll Have Another won the Preakness in 1 minute, 55.94 seconds, after spending 10 days at the Baltimore racetrack. The 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes is set for Belmont Park in New York on June 9.
Bodemeister set the pace out of the gate and held on to the lead until the stretch, when I’ll Have Another moved up for a duel to the finish line.
“It’s not me, it’s just him,” jockey Mario Gutierrez said. “He just keeps proving people wrong. He deserves for people to give him a shot.”
Owner J. Paul Reddam said he wasn’t sure that I’ll Have Another was going to overcome Bodemeister.
“I knew it was a long stretch,” he said. “I wasn’t confident until 10 yards from the finish.”
Trainer Bob Baffert, a five-time Preakness winner, said Bodemeister wouldn’t run in the Belmont.
“A mile-and-a-half is too far for him, he’s going home,” Baffert said. “This was a great horse race. It looked like we had him in the stretch but he came up and nailed us.”
I’ll Have Another paid $8.40, $3.80 and $2.80 on a $2 bet, Bodemeister returned $3.20 and $2.80. Creative Cause was third at $3.60.