Triple Crown 2012: I'll Have Another Will Not Win the Belmont Stakes

Alex GiobbiAnalyst IMay 20, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 19: I'll Have Another #9 ridden by Mario Gutierrez beats Bodemeister #7 ridden by Mike E. Smith at the finish line to win the 137th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 19, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Spectacular Bid, Pleasant Colony, Alysheba, Sunday Silence, Silver Charm, Real Quiet, Charismatic, War Emblem, Funny Cide, Smarty Jones and Big Brown.

1979, 1981, 1987, 1989, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2008. 

These aren't just random horse names, nor are they random years. These are the horses who have won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness before losing the Belmont along with the year they did it since 1978, when Affirmed swept the Triple Crown, becoming the last horse to do so.

Now, as we get set for the 2012 edition of this race, we have yet another challenger to break the Triple Crown's 34-year drought. I'll Have Another, owned by J. Paul Reddam, trained by Doug O'Neill and jockeyed by Mario Gutierrez, is looking to become the newest member of the exclusive Triple Crown Club, by racing in the Belmont Stakes on June 9th. 

I hate to burst the bubble of those expecting the drought to end, but unfortunately, it will be that way. 

Let's take a look at at the Belmont Racetrack compared to the other two racing grounds:

Churchill Downs is a 1.25-mile racetrack, and Pimlico Race Track is 1.19 miles long. Belmont Park, in comparison to the two, is a 1.5-mile racetrack. It is considered the hardest race to run because of the endurance that is required for the horses to run the 12 furlongs.

In the case of one of the recent challengers, Smarty Jones, he had the race until the end, when he lost by a nose to a relative unknown named Birdstone, whose other claim to fame was that he sired 2009 Kentucky Derby Champion Mine That Bird and Belmont winner Summer Bird.

Endurance has played a part in dethroning the two-race champs; in fact, it had been widely speculated that Smarty Jones was not fit enough to win the Belmont, despite the fact that he had the lead until the end.

Aside from the endurance test that is the Belmont, we have to take a look at the Derby and the Preakness races by I'll Have Another.

In the Derby, I'll Have Another was raced in the strategy of being in the middle of the pack, then creeping up during the final turn. The strategy worked, as I'll Have Another ended up passing then-leader Bodemeister and gaining enough ground to quell any notions of Bodemeister winning.

The Preakness Stakes was different. I'll Have Another started the race in fourth place and was there for the majority of the run. It wasn't until the final turn that he began creeping up, taking second. In yet another race between Bodemeister and I'll Have Another, Bodemeister had the lead until the end, when I'll Have Another snuck by him by a nose to win.

While I'm no horse expert, this is what I believe is slowing down. Sure, Pimlico is smaller than Churchill Downs, but still, you have to wonder how he will do on a 1.5-mile track racing against potential challenger Bodemeister and the rest of the field.

If anything, I'll Have Another is a sure bet for place or show, but he will not win the Belmont.

At the end of the day, Affirmed will still be the last winner of the Triple Crown, and I'll Have Another will end up being mentioned among the semi-greats, like Smarty Jones and Funny Cide.

Does this mean that Bodemeister will be the Belmont champ? Maybe, maybe not, but some horse will have to win it.