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I’ll Have Another was installed as the 4-5 morning-line favorite to win the Belmont Stakes and become thoroughbred racing’s first Triple Crown champion since 1978.
I’ll Have Another, trained by Doug O’Neill, won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, the first two legs of the racing trio. The 3-year-old colt would become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed if he wins the 1 1/2-mile race at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, on June 9.
I’ll Have Another will start from the 11th post position in the 12-horse field. The colt won from the 19th post in the Derby and the ninth gate in the Preakness.
“It’s been an unbelievable ride,” O’Neill said after the post draw. “He’s doing great, gallops great, energy is good, appetite is strong and his coat continues to shine. I can’t ask him to come in any better.”
O’Neill said the 11th post position gives jockey Mario Guttierez a chance to see where the other horses are during the race. In previous races, I’ll Have Another has laid back until the colt neared the stretch before making the move to victory.
“If they’re not going real fast, we’re going to try to be the fifth to go wire-to-wire,” O’Neill said when told four other Triple Crown winners shot out and held on to the lead until the finish.
Dullahan, the third-place runner in the Derby last month, was the second favorite, starting from the fifth gate with 5-1 odds, and Union Rags, seventh place finisher in the Derby, will leave from the third post position with 6-1 odds.
“Any horse is going to have to run the race of his life to beat I’ll Have Another,” said Chad Brown, who trains Street Life, a 12-1 entry leaving from gate No. 1.
D. Wayne Lukas, who is seeking his fifth Belmont Stakes win with sixth-place Preakness finisher Optimizer, returned to Belmont today with stitches in his left forehead for a large horseshoe-shaped cut. The 76-year-old trainer was injured yesterday when one of his horses reared and came down with a hoof on his head.
“I got a severe headache,” said Lukas, whose horse was given 20-1 odds from the 10th post position in the Belmont. “It’s not a stretch to run this horse.”
Big Brown was the last Triple Crown contender in 2008 and came in last on a hot day at Belmont Park. Affirmed was the most recent Triple Crown champion in 1978.
PP Horse Jockey Trainer Odds 1 Street Life Jose Lezcano Chad Brown 12-1 2 Unstoppable U Junior Alvarado Ken McPeek 30-1 3 Union Rags John Velazquez Michael Matz 6-1 4 Atigun Julien Leparoux Ken McPeek 30-1 5 Dullahan Javier Castellanos Dale Romans 5-1 6 Ravelo’s Boy Alex Solis Manuel Azpurua 50-1 7 Five Sixteen Rosie Napravnik Dominick Schettino 50-1 8 Guyana Star Dweej Kent Desormeaux Doodnauth Shivmanga 50-1 9 Paynter Mike Smith Bob Baffert 8-1 10 Optimizer Corey Nakatani D. Wayne Lukas 20-1 11 I’ll Have Another Mario Gutierrez Doug O’Neill 4-5 12 My Adonis Ramon Dominguez Kelly Breen 20-1
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