The 2012 King of Kings? I say, YES!
Yes, readers, I called it two weeks ago.
I’ll Have Another was the horse that blew the minds of fans at the Kentucky Derby. In fact, his rival, Bodemeister, was the one who was supposed to take it all in this year’s slightly sorry looking crop of three-year-olds, but I’ll Have Another was the horse that was 15-to-1 – absolutely no chance. But, just as if Seabiscuit had arrived once again for everyone to roll their eyes at and look away from, this is a horse that proved he could do it.
I’ll Have Another took the Derby. Even though Bodemeister ran it faster, he simply could not find the get-up-and-go at the very end to stop the small horse from bounding ahead of him. After the Derby, I’ll Have Another was immediately taken to the Preakness track where he would sit for a couple of weeks waiting for his competition to arrive. Perhaps that was EXACTLY what the horse needed, considering that by the time everyone else joined him, he was more than comfortable at his new track and proved it to the world of naysayers.
Not only was it stated that I’ll Have Another would never take two – let alone be any kind of Triple Threat whatsoever to the racing world – he showed them once again. And in the final effort, he made sure that his lovely head was just far enough beyond Bodemeister’s to go two for two!
I’ll Have Another is the 12th horse to claim the first two legs of the Triple Crown since 1978, and now he’s on to Belmont to attempt to prove the world wrong once again and bring home that Triple Crown.
Yes, the Belmont is the longest of them all, but the upside is that I’ll Have Another has already proved that he came out of the Preakness completely hinged and doing just fine. It was trainer, Doug O’Neill, who let the world know that I’ll Have Another finished his dinner after winning the second of three races, which indicates that he horse is still rolling along without problems.
Following the winning formula they began by bringing I’ll Have Another immediately from the Derby to the Preakness, the horse was scheduled to leave Baltimore just a few hours after dinner in a van bound for Belmont Park in New York. Here is where, on June 9th, he will face his chance to sweep the Triple Crown.
O’Neill believes that moving and settling the horse early is the absolute best thing for him. Shipping quickly also helps the people who will work with the horse while he’s there.
If I’ll Have Another wins at Belmont he will become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed took it in 1978. Eleven horses have swept the Triple Crown throughout history, with Big Brown in 2008 being the last horse who had a shot to clinch, but ended up finishing ninth.
Although many people are coming out of the woodwork now, immediately saying after the Preakness win that I’ll Have Another just doesn’t have the stamina to handle the mile and a half race coming up, O’Neill (as well as this writer) believes he has plenty of stamina in his pedigree to take that Triple Crown and shut everyone up for good. According to O’Neill, I’ll Have Another owns the tactical speed that “gives us a lot of confidence. He’s always had an amazing stride, and he handles the pressure.’’
Boy, does he. In fact, I’ll have Another looks a great deal like George Clooney standing on the red carpet. He poses for cameras – seems to like it, in fact – and doesn’t seem to have a bit of difficulty in situations where he is in the spotlight.
In addition, jockey Mario Gutierrez – who won the Derby and the Preakness in his first two rides in Triple Crown races – is coming into the race with a great deal of confidence, seeing as that this is the first time he will be riding at Belmont Park in his career. Many people, including O’Neill, consistently remark upon Mario’s extreme patience. To witness this, just re-watch the Preakness; jockey and horse were certainly in the same zone. Gutierrez let I’ll Have Another settle about four lengths off the early pace. He then gained steam on the final turn and charged the front-running Bodemeister down the stretch. And then, with just a few strides to go in order to cross that golden finish line, I’ll Have Another took the lead yet again and won by a neck.
For Bodemeister, of course, to run yet another perfect and extremely fast race just to end up second must seriously hut. Even O’Neill says that horse is “just brilliant.’’ Apparently, I’ll Have Another doesn’t feel the same way. In fact, he reminds one of Seabiscuit simply because this is yet another horse who does not want someone running in front of him, and will make sure to correct that particular problem before the line is crossed.
Odd part? The only thing I find slightly off and that may lose the Belmont for I’ll Have Another is the fact that Bodemeister won’t be there. It’s never right or good to mess with the hands of Fate. In the end, it could simply BE Bodemeister that’s making I’ll Have Another try so hard to become the ‘best of the best’ over such a stunningly beautiful horse.
Now, just in case you missed the glory, I’ll Have Another pulled off the second come-from-behind win in the most dramatic fashion you could imagine. This three-year-old colt overtook Bodemeister in the final inches on Saturday afternoon, and went from a 15-to-1 shot in the Derby two weeks ago to the ‘IT’ horse to take it all.
He had entered the Preakness as one of the favorites at 3-to-1, but now the horse is on the verge of making history with a chance to capture sport’s most elusive prize.
But it’s not only the horse that won. With I’ll Have Another’s Triple Crown journey he has also brought back the sport of horseracing. Interest has been growing once again to a level not seen in thirty-four years; not since Affirmed won the trifecta. A niche sport is what thoroughbred racing has always been, but this Triple Crown is what truly appeals to a nationwide audience. From the hats of the Derby to the thrill of the final ‘leg,’ fans come out of the woodwork, steel, doors, window frames – you name it – they will be tuning in June 9th and hoping for a true 2012 miracle.
And I am most definitely one of them! Yes, I call it, I’ll Have Another WILL be the “King of Kings.”
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Until Next Time, Everybody,
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