I’ll Have Another gets nod to run table
Elmont, N.Y. – The post position draw for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes featured some good-natured posturing at Belmont Park on Wednesday, when I’ll Have Another was installed as the 4-5 morning-line favorite in his coming bid for the Triple Crown.
Many think I’ll Have Another, this year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, could be beaten in the 11/2-mile test by Dullahan, which finished third in the May 5 Derby and skipped the May 19 Preakness with a plan to upset the Belmont.
Dullahan owner, Jerry Crawford, had some parallels to draw between the name of his starter’s sire and Dullahan’s position coming off the Derby loss.
“He’s by Even the Score, Paul,” Crawford told I’ll Have Another owner J. Paul Reddam. “That’s kind of catchy, don’t you think?”
“Not as catchy as I’ll Have Another,” Reddam retorted.
Dullahan, trained by Dale Romans, drew post No. 5 and was made the 5-1 second choice in a 12-horse field. I’ll Have Another will start from post No. 11 under Mario Gutierrez, the 25-year-old rookie who piloted him to victory at Churchill Downs in Louisville and at Pimlico in Baltimore two weeks later.
While confident in his starter, Crawford was quick to credit I’ll Have Another’s talent. A chestnut colt, he is unbeaten in four starts in graded stakes races this year.
“I don’t think I’ll Have Another, as much attention as he’s gotten, has really gotten his full due yet,” Crawford said. “We’re going to do everything we can to keep him from being the Triple Crown winner, but after everything he’s already done, if he gets it done here Saturday, he’ll not only be a worthy Triple Crown winner, but he will have exceeded all possible expectations.”
According to I’ll Have Another trainer, Doug O’Neill, the post position is perfect for his versatile runner.
“Being in the 11 hole, we’ll be able to see how the pace sets up,” O’Neill said. “If they’re crawling we’ll be hopefully leading the crawl, and if they’re flying we’ll be sitting in behind horses. Mario’s just a confident rider and very confident in I’ll Have Another. We couldn’t ask to be coming into this any better.”
Bodemeister owner Ahmed Zayat is also gunning for I’ll Have Another after losing to the colt in the first two legs of the Triple Crown. But he’ll do it with a different contender.
Bodemeister, the front-runner who showed the way in the Derby and the Preakness only to be run down in the final strides, is back in California resting after second-place finishes in both events. Stablemate Paynter, a lightly raced horse who has only two wins in four career starts, will make the challenge for Zayat and trainer Bob Baffert.
“He’s a serious colt,” Zayat said. “He’s very talented and developing at the right time. He’s more versatile than people think.”
Paynter will break from post No. 9 at odds of 8-1. Also in the field is the Michael Matz-trained Union Rags, who ran seventh in the Derby and will leave post No. 3 at odds of 6-1.
Belmont track workers have struck a labor deal with the New York Racing Association to head off a possible strike.
The workers at Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga tracks had been without a contract since February 2011. The agreement addresses all major economic issues, including shift schedules, benefits for active employees, as well as pension and retiree medical benefits. It runs through Feb. 28, 2014.