- Road to the Kentucky Derby
- Racing & Wagering
I'll Have Another 'hard to pull up'
I'll Have Another galloped one mile under exercise rider Humberto Gomez Friday morning at Belmont Park, where on June 9 he will attempt to add the $1 million Belmont Stakes to his victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and become racing's 12th Triple Crown winner.
It was the first gallop over Belmont's 1 1/2-mile track for I'll Have Another, who jogged the previous two days after arriving in New York Sunday. The Flower Alley colt, who is bidding to become the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years, was accompanied by his stable pony, Lava Man, as he made his way to the track shortly after the renovation break.
As a steady rain began to fall, Gomez kept I'll Have Another well off the rail toward the center of the track and the colt had his ears pricked forward as he rolled through the stretch before being pulled up on the clubhouse turn.
"He was a little hard to pull up," Gomez said. "He felt really good. We're happy because he came out of the last race very good. He handled the track very, very well."
"He looked super," added trainer Doug O'Neill's assistant, Jack Sisterson.
"One thing we were looking to see how he got over the track, stride-wise, and he looked fantastic. The rider said he felt good, and he's happy, so we're happy."
Since 1919, 30 horses have entered the 1 1/2-mile Belmont with a chance to win the Triple Crown, and 11 have succeeded, most recently Affirmed in 1978.
Big Brown in 2008 was the last horse of 19 horses to have come up short in an attempt to sweep the series, and on June 9 there will be as many as 11 horses lined up to play the role of spoiler: Alpha, Atigun, Dullahan, Five Sixteen, Guyana Star Dweej, Optimizer, Paynter, Ravelo's Boy, Street Life, Union Rags and Unstoppable U.