Preakness 2012: How I'll Have Another's Victory Will Affect His Belmont Chances

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 24, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 19:  Mario Gutierrez celebrates aboard I'll Have Another after crossing the finish line to win the 137th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 19, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Just like in the Kentucky Derby, I'll Have Another needed a late rally to overcome Bodemeister to win the Preakness Stakes. While he set himself up for a run into history with the victory, he also used a lot of energy to make it happen.

That's a major concern heading into the Belmont Stakes. The third leg of the Triple Crown will be his third start in five weeks after never racing more than once per month previously during his career, which means there will be a lot of concern about his ability to bounce back strong.

Trainer Doug O'Neill or jockey Mario Gutierrez have clearly planned to come from behind instead of setting the early pace, but it's a dangerous game to play because if I'll Have Another doesn't make the late kick, his chances are doomed.

Even though the extra week between races should help a little bit, it's still the most demanding schedule of the horse's career, and nobody knows how he'll react when Gutierrez asks for him to go as they turn for home at the Belmont.

The third Triple Crown race is the longest one of them all, checking in at 12 furlongs. That's a tough test for a horse that has already used so much energy to reach this point.

It's a point best exemplified by the last 11 horses to be in I'll Have Another's position. That's how many horses have won the first two Triple Crown races since Affirmed won the last one in 1979, and all of them have failed to complete the job.

They simply weren't able to overcome the grueling final task. Horses are handled with a lot more care nowadays, which ultimately makes them less prepared to run so many races in a short time period, especially with the final one being 1.5 miles.

I'll Have Another will attempt to buck that trend, but the colt faces an uphill battle. Elite horses like Big Brown, Charismatic and War Emblem couldn't win the Belmont, showing exactly how tough it will be for the comeback specialist.

If he does fall short, it won't be because of a bad ride or tough field, but simply not having enough gas left in the tank to conquer his tallest task to date.

That doesn't make his prior victories any less impressive, it just shows how difficult a Triple Crown is to win in the modern era of horse racing.