Mario Gutierrez aboard I'll Have Another pulls past Mike Smith aboard Bodemeister to win the 137th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Mandatory Credit: Maxwell Kruger-US PRESSWIRE
BALTIMORE - I'll Have Another captured a thrilling Preakness Stakes on Saturday to give him victories in the first two legs of the Triple Crown, and will try to become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the coveted title when he runs in the Belmont Stakes on Jun 9.
I'll Have Another reprised his Kentucky Derby Ride victory at Pimlico, staying off the pace most of the race, then running down speedy Bodemeister, who led from the start, passing him right near the finish line to win the 137th running of the Preakness by a neck at sun-splashed Pilmico Race Course.
"I can't even put it into words, it's just incredible" said I'll Have Another's trainer Doug O'Neill. "What a ride. (Jockey) Mario (Gutierrez) was so patient. We're thinking Triple Crown, baby. Come on, why not.
"I can't say enough about Mexico letting us borrow Mario."
Said Gutierrez, 25, who hails from Veracruz, Mexico: "More than anything, I'm glad I didn't disappoint people. Like I say, it's not about me. It's about the horse. From Day 1, I've believed in him. I'm so happy for him because he's just a great horse."
The son of Flower Alley, who was purchased for just $35,000, became the first horse since Big Brown in 2008 to win the first two legs of horse racing's biggest prize. The winner of the 13/16-mile race earned $600,000 of the $1 million purse.
"Today, with a reasonable pace, he didn't have trouble, but he was wide in the first turn," owner J. Paul Reddam said of his horse. "He showed he's the real deal. He's a real race horse. He gutted it out. The other horse (Bodemeister) was not stopping. He ran a bang-up race, and to come and catch him, how can you criticize him, really.
"The horse has done everything that we have asked of him this year, and he hasn't had the most respect. He's never been favored."
Dennis O'Neill, Doug's brother, said they will take their Preakness winner to Belmont in the next few days. "Doug and I will probably go home for four or five days and let this sink in, and go back to New York the end of next week. That's the tentative plan."
I'll Have Another became just the fourth horse to win the Preakness from the No. 9 post, and first since Funny Cide in 2003.
Bodemeister finished as the runnerup again, thwarting trainer Bob Baffert's try for his sixth Preakness victory. Creative Cause, who had beaten both the winner and runnerup in previous races, was third.
Bodemeister was the 3-2 favorite over the winner, who entered the race at 3-1. But he was competing for the sixth time this season and third time in five weeks.
Tom Chukas, president of the Maryland Jockey Club, said he was happy with the race-day turnout, especially in the packed infield, and considering the weather was about as optimal as it gets, with sunny skies, low humidity and temperatures around 80 degrees.
Regarding the size of the crowd, Chukas said, "We had 107,000 last year, and I would be disappointed if we weren't at 115,000 or more, and to be frank, everything but the infield was sold out three days ago."