Belmont Stakes 2012: Post Draw Will Have No Impact on I'll Have Another's Hopes
Whether or not you think I'll Have Another has a legitimate shot at capturing the Triple Crown isn't likely to change once post positions are determined.
For many a horse, post position can dictate whether he finishes first or last. Sometimes, it's a mental game—jockeys and horses alike can get so bent out of shape about their draws that it interferes with their focus come race time—but in a lot of cases, it can truly be a difference maker.
It's hard to get into good position coming out of the last gate, especially among bigger fields, without falling so far behind that it's impossible to recover. Similarly, it’s hard to get caught out of position from the first or the second gate, where—on oval tracks—a horse is so close to the rails that it’s nearly impossible to get caught way on the outside during the all-important turns.
For some horses, though, being on the outside is inconsequential. At least, that’s the case for I’ll Have Another.
Leading up to the Kentucky Derby, none of the attention was focused at all upon Doug O'Neill's horse, and why should it have been? He was entering the race with a rookie jockey, he didn't have much experience against the rest of the so-called elites in the field and his post position—from Gate No. 19—had essentially doomed him.
But by the end of the day on May 5, I'll Have Another was the first horse to ever win the Kentucky Derby from post position No. 19.
The way I'll Have Another runs isn't very dependent on his post. He isn't a horse that charges ahead to an early lead and then gives everything he has to maintain that pace; instead, he's better off hanging back, seeing the track and the field and then putting himself in the right position to make a big push at the end. He doesn't get caught up in traffic or stalled on wide turns, like Union Rags would; he has the patience to pick the perfect time to charge and the speed to get the job done.
Judging by his performances in the Derby and the Preakness, it's a winning combination.
The Belmont will doubtlessly be a different story. It's a 1.5-mile track—the longest of all three Triple Crown races—and there will be no speedster like Bodemeister to set the pace.
Still, it's no stretch to think I'll Have Another will find some way to use his skills to his advantage, no matter where he begins the race. He always does.
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