Click above to watch I’ll Have Another winning the 137th Preakness Stakes…
(Image : Daily Mail - Footage : M Pearson)
PREAKNESS STAKES (Grade 1)
Pimlico, Dirt, 1900m
19 May 2012
Maybe it wasn’t Sunday Silence and Easy Goer coming down to settle the GI Preakness Stakes Saturday at Old Hilltop, but J. Paul Reddam’sI’ll Have Another (Flower Alley) and Bodemeister (Empire Maker) put on an outstanding show in their own right, duplicating their 1-2 finish from the GI Kentucky Derby two weeks ago and creating the first Triple Crown bid since Big Brown (Boundary) went for the sweep back in 2008.
Bodemeister, favored in the rematch at 17-10, won the break and made the lead passing the stands for the first time, while - somewhat surprisingly - Creative Cause emerged as the nearest pace presence. I’ll Have Another jumped fairly and was handy enough while racing in about the three path, but was nudged out a bit wider by Went The Day Well (Proud Citizen) approaching the clubhouse turn. The Team Valor runner backed off a bit, and that allowed Mario Gutierrez to tuck into a three-wide spot around the turn and into the backstretch. Back on the front end, Bodemeister and Mike Smith were coasting along through an opening half-mile in :47.68, not taxing on paper, but perhaps an above-par pace over a dull strip. Creative Cause was in good striking position from second, while I’ll Have Another was three wide, but covered up behind his grey fellow Californian.
Bodemeister was still going smartly on the engine at the three eighths marker, and Gutierrez seemed to have a few seconds of hesitation as he tried to decide whether to go inside or outside of Creative Cause. He remained off that one’s heels to the quarter pole, was switched out thereafter and was a bit clumsy in switching his leads. It looked for a few strides as if I’ll Have Another might have work to do to catch the free-wheeling Bodemeister, but he continued to plug away with dour determination, took aim on the Bob Baffert runner entering the final half-furlong and pegged him back in the final two strides. Creative Cause finished third, though nearly nine lengths off the top two. The winning rider admitted to expecting a dogfight in the waning stages. “I knew it was going to be a little bit of a tough race,” he said. “But I’ll Have Another had a tremendous kick in the end. So I could feel my horse racing ground and everything was definitely the way. So it’s a great feeling when you’re riding a horse that’s giving you a hundred percent. He’s an amazing horse.”
For every trainer who has not excelled under the Triple Crown spotlight, there is a Doug O’Neill. His leadup to Saturday’s Preakness included throwing out the first pitch prior to the Orioles-Yankees game at nearby Camden Yards and various public appearances. In fact, O’Neill took time out on national television in the winner’s enclosure, to call out the first names of at least a dozen people, most likely young people, whose acquaintance he had made during his time in the city.
Much maligned, O’Neill is clearly cut from a different mold and has flourished in the aftermath of the Kentucky Derby. He was very much at ease after finally making his way to the post-Preakness press gathering.
Q: Your wife is known for being allergic to horses. Is she allergic to I’ll Have Another?
A: It’s amazing. The large checks seem to keep her from itching and coughing.
Q: And what about the next three weeks?
A: Certainly the intensity and pressure will be on the rise.
Q: Are you looking forward to it?
A: I am. I’m excited. I’m surrounded by so many fun people. Just having fun with them. That is kind of doing our thing around the barn. We work hard and take good care of the horses. When injuries come up, we just regroup, take care of them, and we just have a really good atmosphere in the barn. That helps us have time to keep everything very loose for me and the horses and the staff.
So look out NYC. Team O’Neill is on their way.
Extract from Thorougbred Daily News