Late Update: I'll Have Another scratched from Belmont Stakes
Maybe I just don’t like the horse. Maybe I’m completely missing out on his brilliance. Maybe I’m completely wrong and I’ll Have Another will be the 12th Triple Crown winner, but I think not. Here’s why:
The Triple Crown is a tough task for any horse and the obstacles are beginning to mount up against I’ll Have Another. Let’s start with post position. Even though the Belmont Stakes is 1 ½-miles, the 11 hole is no cake walk. Being wide on the first turn could be just as critical as beginning wide on the far turn.
My Adonis, the horse in the 12 hole, will be hurried out of the gate, so I’ll Have Another will have to decide whether to hustle early to avoid getting shuffled back, or take right back and let the top five or six horses go.
Mario Gutierrez has never won a race at Belmont, and although he will ride races leading up to the Belmont Stakes, there is no substitute for experience. Preemptive moves have stopped Triple Crown hopes before. Stewart Elliot moved too early on Smarty Jones and Birdstone caught him late. The wide turns at Belmont and the massive size of the track can also be daunting. The start of the turn at most tracks is three furlongs from the wire. At Belmont it is 4 ½- furlongs from the wire. Patience is most certainly a virtue.
Winning three Grade 1 stakes at three different race courses and distances in five weeks is a grueling task. I’ll Have Another looks to have lost weight over the course of the Triple Crown grind and he is certainly not as sharp as he was when he was fresh off the layoff. The horses who took a break are fresh and have extra in the tank now to run at him.
Dullahan rallied well in the Derby and had a tough trip for a horse who trainer Dale Romans said wanted to be closer. Union Rags got bottled up and had nowhere to go in the Derby and finally came flying late to be seventh. Optimizer should love the distance, being a son of English Channel out of an A.P. Indy mare. Take a look at some longshots too. Unstoppable U. and Atigun could both surprise at big prices. Both have route breeding, are versatile, and drew well for trainer Ken McPeek. I’ll Have Another also doesn’t get his nasal strip for the Belmont and has not breezed since the Preakness.
A combination of all the above factors makes winning the Belmont incredibly difficult for I’ll Have Another.
I’m a man of my beliefs and if I’ll Have Another wins the Triple Crown, I will make a $100 donation to the Winner’s Foundation. I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong if he wins, but I don’t think I am, so be careful before you jump in and bet on this sure fire Triple Crown winner.
On the local scene the two features this weekend are highly competitive affairs. Balooga Bull and Pleasant Closing go at it again in the Golden Boy Stakes on Friday, and Cell Line Forever, Golden Stripe, Honorable Lady and Sweet Tizzy Lizzy battle in the La Verendrye on Saturday.
The seventh race on Friday night is a tough Manitoba-bred allowance race for three and 4-year-olds. There is quite a bit of speed in the race, especially in Danger Rules, Going for a Few and Bashful Coco. I think this race could set up for Tannat if he stalks and rallies, though he certainly wants to route.
Danger Rules, pictured above, is the top Manitoba bred 3-year-old male so far and has good speed, but it is tough to bet 3-year-olds against older horses in June. Going for a Few cruised home in an allowance race first time out.
The other race of the weekend that should be fun is the sixth on Saturday; a Maiden Special Weight featuring Badjo Badjo Badjo and I’minittowinit, both of which had awful trips last time out. Dixieland Gold, who caused some of that trouble, and Gamza, who ran a good third last time, are also in this event. It is a wide open affair for sure.
Rob’s Best Bets - We’re going to try something new here this week in the form of my Best Bets. I’ll bet $5 across on each horse I pick as a best bet and I’ll keep track of my success.
Friday’s Best Bet: Race 5 - #3 Indefinite
Saturday’s Best Bet: Race 3 - #3 Lasting Cash