After thrilling wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, I’ll Have Another is within striking distance of the coveted and elusive Triple Crown.
If 25-year-old jockey Mario Gutierrez can guide his prized colt to victory at the Belmont Stakes June 9, we will witness the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed accomplished the rare feat in 1978. If not, we will have a 46th entrant to the list of horses that won two of three Triple Crown races.
Although I’ll Have Another currently enjoys 3-5 odds of capturing the Belmont Stakes title according to www.belmontstakes.com, victory is by no means a guarantee; there are plenty of contenders capable of making the horse yet another asterisk as opposed to a record holder.
Taking a broad look at the competitors, the horse most likely to spoil I’ll Have Another’s day is…Dullahan.
Owned by Donegal Racing and jockeyed by Javier Castellano, the three-year-old colt currently holds 5-1 odds in the upcoming race, better than any other challenger to I’ll Have Another.
Dullahan finished third in the Kentucky Derby, the last race in which it competed. The only horse in the field besides I’ll Have Another to compete in the Preakness (the most recent race), Optimizer, finished sixth.
Union Rags, which finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby and did not compete in the Preakness, is just behind Dullahan with 6-1 odds and has a legitimate chance to win.
Behind Union Rags are Paynter, which holds 8-1 odds, Street Life, with 15-1 odds and Unstoppable U, Optimizer and Atigun with 30-1 odds. Finally, there are three horses with 50-1 odds.
Encouraging for Dullahan fans is news of his latest workout at Belmont Park. According to the Associated Press (via FOXSports.com), the horse covered four furlongs (half a mile) in 45.97, earning praise from his jockey. Meanwhile, Union Rags reportedly galloped five furlongs in 59 seconds.
Moreover, Dullahan’s trainer, Dale L. Romans, is a seasoned veteran who has over 1,000 career victories and saw his colt, Shackleford, win the Preakness in 2011.
Before the Kentucky Derby, Dullahan finished second in the Palm Beach Stakes in March and won the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes in April.
Interestingly, “dullahan,” according to www.bellaterreno.com an entity in Irish mythology, is a headless fairy that rides a black horse, carrying his or head under the arm. According to tradition, a dullahan indicates impending death and consequently strikes fear into the hearts of citizens in its wake.
Although a number of contenders are capable of preventing I’ll Have Another from having another, given its relatively favorable odds and recent races, Dullahan has the best shot at denying the favorite a place in immortality and becoming the twelfth horse to win the Triple Crown.