In a thrilling duel to the wire, Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another won the Grade 1 $1,000,000 Preakness Stakes over Bodemeister. A record crowd of 121,309 came out to Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland to witness I'll Have Another win the 1 3/16 mile race and grab the second jewel in the Triple Crown.
The Flower Alley colt became only the 12th horse to garner a chance at the Triple Crown since Affirmed won it in 1978. Should I'll Have Another win the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York on June 9, he'll become the 12th horse to win the elusive Triple Crown and go down in history as the horse that broke the 34-year Triple Crown drought.
Although Doug O'Neil's I'll Have Another chased down Bob Baffert's front-running Bodemeister to win the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, many, including the Preakness bettors that made Bodemeister the 8-5 favorite, did not think I'll Have Another could do it again. However, that's exactly what happened in Saturday's race.
"I’m just numb," said O'Neill from the winner's circle. "I could see him and I felt like he was coming, but you never want to expect that he’s going to be in front. I saw him coming. It seemed like the stretch never ends. Thank God. Incredible."
As expected, Bodemeister and jockey Mike Smith made the lead early, but with no one challenging Bodemeister for the lead as Trinniberg had in the Derby, he was able to set a reasonable pace, going :23.79 for the first quarter and :47.68 for the second. Turning for home, it looked like Bodemeister just might go all the way, with I'll Have Another and Creative Cause nearly three lengths behind, but I'll Have Another closed strongly and caught Bodemeister at the wire, finishing a neck in front as the crowd roared with delight.
"We wanted to be a little bit closer to Bodemeister this time because normally that horse runs a huge race," said Mario Gutierrez, jockey aboard I'll Have Another. "My horse has a tremendous kick in the end. He has been proving that in the last three races. He didn’t disappoint again today."
"The fractions were more reasonable today, so turning for home I really thought he was going to do it, " said Baffert, the five-time Preakness-winning trainer, of Bodemeister 's performance. "He just got a little late there at the end. The winner's a good horse. It was a good horse race."
Mike Harrington's Creative Cause, who finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby, was nearly nine lengths back in third. Other contenders exiting the Derby were sixth place Preakness finisher Optimizer, ninth place finisher Daddy Nose Best and tenth place finisher Went The Day Well.
Louisville-based trainer Dale Romans who chose to skip the Preakness and aim for the Belmont with his third place Derby finisher Dullahan, sent out Cozzetti instead. Cozzetti's seventh place finish in the Preakness was a bit disappointing for the trainer who won last year's race with Shackleford.
"It looked like he was going to make a big move and he just flattened out," said Romans. "He’s a good horse. He just hasn’t shown what he can do. I did get excited turning for home. It was an amazing race. We have a Triple Crown on the line. That’s good for racing."
I'll Have Another returned $8.40, $3.80 and $2.80. Bodemeister paid $3.20 and $2.80 and completed the $2 exacta for $18.60. Creative Cause returned $3.60 and completed the $2 triple for $70.80. Forth place finisher Zetterholm completed the $1 superfecta for $424.30. The final time for the 1 3/16 mile race was 1:55.94.
Two down, one to go. All that's left to say is...thank you sir, I'll Have Another!
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Photo: Courtesy Preakness.com