Belmont Stakes 2012: How I'll Have Another Is Saving Horse Racing

Evan BudrovichCorrespondent IJune 8, 2012

ELMONT, NY - JUNE 06:  Exercise rider Jonny Garcia takes Triple Crown Hopefull I'll Have Another over the track in preparation for the 144th Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 6, 2012 in Elmont, New York.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Horse favorite I’ll Have Another is on the verge of winning the Triple Crown Saturday at the Belmont Stakes. History is not favoring the horse, but the way the colt runs, anything is possible.

I’ll Have Another did not win the Kentucky Derby nor the Preakness in a traditional manner. Beginning at the Kentucky Derby, he stormed out of the 19 post and won the race. This feat had never occurred before at the Derby, making his run to the crown all the more improbable.  

Not only did he win from an unprecedented spot but his jockey Mario Gutierrez, only 25, made his Kentucky Derby debut. The combination of a young jockey and improbable start position is an inspirational story in itself.

But don’t worry, the best part is yet to come. Down by a huge margin at the final turn of the Derby, Gutierrez got the most out of his colt who came back to pass Bodemeister and win the Derby by one and a half lengths. The 15-1 odd I’ll Have Another stole the show at the Derby and set the stage for an even greater comeback at the Preakness.

One of the greatest moments in sports is to watch a horse come from behind and catch the leader and stride away for the victory. Even if the race does not require a photo finish, just witnessing the jockeys demand the most out of their horses is exciting and watching the years of practice come down to a .25-mile stretch is exhilarating. That kind of drama followed I’ll Have Another all the way to the Preakness.

Bodemeister who was passed up during the Kentucky Derby was once again the favorite for the Preakness with 8-5 odds of winning the race. He stormed out the gate and took the early lead, leaving Gutierrez’s colt seemingly out of contention. But on the final turn, I’ll Have Another made his patented run to the finish, captivating everyone who witnessed the madness.

At this moment all 121,309 in attendance could feel goose bumps in their skin anticipating another close finish. As a fan you have to cheer for the horse coming from the behind. It’s the excitement and drama that allows sports to flourish. So in dramatic fashion, much to the dismay of Bodemeister, Gutierrez powered his colt to a come-from-behind victory at the Preakness by a neck length. I’ll Have Another rode off the champion primed to make history at the Belmont Stakes.

What has been so intriguing about the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness has been the style of victory that I’ll Have Another has given us. The sport of horse racing needs a true underdog to conquer again, and watching this colt makes any sports fan awestruck at the determination of a horse that can come back to win twice against the same competitor.

This style of racing captivates audiences and can even draw in the moderate sports fan. These types of fans will be willing to stop their day for a few moments to witness the chance for a Triple Crown on Saturday at the Belmont Stakes, hopeful to witness I’ll Have Another pulling off another improbable finish.  

Whether I’ll Have Another wins this race or not, the idea of a dramatic finish between two even horses will make the Belmont Stakes all the more exciting and watchable. Unfortunately, Bodemeister will not be participating in the Belmont but expect similar drama from I’ll Have Another this weekend. The type of races this colt runs are intriguing all the way through and should allow the sport of horse racing to shine on the national stage.

I’ll Have Another will probably not save the sport in terms of national coverage, but he will create a greater buzz for the major events. The big three of horse racing will continue to flourish through great attendance and lucrative betting. The reason why these folks continue to follow and watch horse racing is because they can never count out the horse from behind.

If I’ll Have Another has shown us anything, it is that his style of racing is important for the sport to flourish, so expect some intriguing drama into Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.