Triple Crown favorite I’ll Have Another will attempt Saturday to do what 11 horses since 1978 have failed at, winning the Belmont after capturing the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
The Canadian-owned chestnut colt, with jockey Mario Gutierrez of Mexico aboard, is the 4-5 favorite and will start from the No. 11 post; there are 12 horses entered.
Trainer Doug O’Neill told Fox News that starting from the outside will give Gutierrez chance to survey his competition.
“We’re in good shape,” he said.
The last horse to win the Triple Crown was Affirmed in 1978.
In 2008, Big Brown won the first two legs, but suffered an injury and had to withdraw.
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What will be missing Saturday in New York, however, is I’ll Have Another’s top rival, Bodemeister.
Trainer Bob Baffert’s horse led both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness late only to watch I’ll Have Another win at the line.
“We were never intending to run in the Belmont,” Baffert said, according to the New York Daily News. “We wanted to make the Derby, and the Preakness was his sixth start this year.”
Alex Waldrop, president of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said horse racing is beyond anxious for a Triple Crown winner.
The sport is plagued by sagging attendance and betting revenue, and wants to attract younger audiences.
“We will absolutely have a superstar on our hands if I’ll Have Another wins the race. We have to be prepared to take advantage of that,” Waldrop told The Associated Press.
The 1.5-mile Belmont is the longest, and therefore most difficult to win.
I’ll Have Another’s competition comes from Dullahan (5-1 odds) and Union Rags (6-1).
This will also be I’ll Have Another’s first race on dirt.
“Most horses, it takes a while to settle into new surfaces and he’s doing great,” O’Neill told CNN. “I really think we have a horse that can do it.”
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