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The hunt for sports most elusive prize, the Triple Crown, is officially on. I’ll Have Another (Flower Alley) became the first horse to win the first two jewels of the Triple Crown since Big Brown (Boundary) in 2008. He won the Preakness Stakes (Grade 1) before a record crowd by just a neck. In three weeks, he will be seeking to become only the twelfth winner of the Triple Crown and the first since Affirmed (Exclusive Native) in 1978.
It was a beautiful day in Baltimore at Old Hilltop, and the main event did not disappoint. The showdown between I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister (Empire Maker) was all that it was expected to be and so much more. As expected, Bodemeister took the early lead tracked closely by Pretension (Bluegrass Cat) and Creative Cause (Giant’s Causeway). I’ll Have Another closely followed that trio and moved up to challenge Creative Cause at the top of the lane.
Through the stretch, it appeared Bodemeister might be home free, but Iíll Have Another came running like a freight train to nail his rival on the line. Now it’s on to New York and “The Test of a Champion” to see if I’ll Have Another will gain immortality and etch his name in the history books. The Derby and Preakness winner has already made the trip to New York to prepare for his biggest test yet.
Now the question on everyone’s mind is, can he do it? His pedigree and running style would certainly say yes. Now the horses that will run against him are a different story. Standing in his way will be Kentucky Derby also-rans Dullahan (Even the Score) and Union Rags (Dixie Union). Both of them elected to skip the Preakness in favor of the 1 1/2 miles Belmont Stakes.
Very famously in 2003, Bobby Frankel skipped the Preakness with his Empire Maker (Unbridled) to have a fresh horse for the Belmont, and he denied the Triple Crown bid of Funny Cide (Distorted Humor).
Another new shooter will be Mark Valeski (Proud Citizen), winner of the Peter Pan (Grade 2) at Belmont Park. A.P. Indy (Seattle Slew) pulled off the Peter Pan / Belmont double back in 1992 en route to Horse of the Year honors, and Mark Valeski’s connections will be hoping for the same result.
Not joining the fray will be I’ll Have Another’s archrival Bodemeister. He will sit out this dance and will most likely target the Haskell Invitational (Grade 1) later this summer.
Seth Kochera is a graduate of Georgetown College, working in the horse industry. He studies bloodlines and racing performance and shares his knowledge with KyForward readers. He’ll be following the road to the Triple Crown. His email is email@example.com.