I'll Have Another dug deep yesterday to run down the blazing pacesetter Bodemeister and win the 138th Kentucky Derby. But, can he go on and win the Triple Crown?
He will be attempting to become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to sweep the Triple Crown, which continues with the Preakness Stakes on May 19th and concludes with the Belmont Stakes on June 9th.
But to have a chance at winning the Triple Crown, I'll Have Another will have to become the 22nd horse in history to win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.
The Preakness won't be an easy feat for I'll Have Another, no matter who or how many will be his opponents on race day.
Many are already declaring Bodemeister a lock to win the Preakness based on his amazing performance in defeat in the Derby. But I beg to differ.
Bodemeister was caught with half a furlong to go—which is exactly the Preakness distance—after blazing through the fastest combined first splits in Derby history. He tired as expected, but only I'll Have Another had enough to catch him.
Jockey Mike Smith went for the lead from the start as you can see him urging Bodemeister to take the lead at the break. I still believe that even without Trinniberg in the race, Hansen would have gone after him right away.
But the common belief is that without the presence of Trinniberg, Bodemeister would have eased down the pace and won running away, thus making the Preakness the likely scenario for this to happen.
I had picked Union Rags to win the Derby and stand by it. For the second race in a row, Julien Leparoux cost him a win, or at least a chance to show up as it was the case in the Derby.
In that same predictions article I stated that the 19th post position for I'll Have Another would make his jockey, Mario Gutierrez, place him farther back than his preferred forwardly place on the early goings.
I'll Have Another is a pace-stalking horse who showed he can be further behind the pace and run it down to win. He did it in the Santa Anita Derby and the Robert B. Lewis before that, and has shown sprint speed in his first two career starts.
In the Preakness, it is not possible to have 20 horses, so even if he posts at the furthest outside post—14th—it will be a walk in the park compared to the 19th he had at the Derby. He can be closer to the pace as he likes and be able to make a move earlier if needed.
There is no guarantee that Bodemeister will not be challenged in the Preakness if he were to repeat his Derby strategy. There is one horse that can go with him and that is Jerome Stakes winner The Lumber Guy.
He battled from the start with Brigand before finally taking charge in the late stages for his third win in four starts.
Another thing to like about I'll Have Another is that he is the fresher of the Derby horses going to the Preakness. It will be just his fourth race of the year, while for Bodemeister this will be his sixth, and third in five weeks.
It remains to be seen how much this race took from Bodemeister, who ran this remarkable effort just three weeks after blazing through fast splits and winning the Arkansas Derby.
I'll Have Another's style of racing is much like his sire Flower Alley. While he has already surpassed his sire by winning the Derby, he is as much a powerful stalker that can run down fast pacesetters.
The Preakness distance sets up very well for him, maybe better than the Derby distance. Gutierrez seems to have found a sweet spot with him and is a perfect three-for-three now with him.
Can I'll Have Another capitalize with a Preakness win? Yes, he can, and he should be favored to do so.