June 7th, 2012
02:26 PM ET

High stakes, long race at Triple Crown's Belmont

This Saturday, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner I'll Have Another is looking to win horse racing's first Triple Crown victory in 34 years at the Belmont Stakes. And for the first time in three races, oddsmakers say the horse is actually favored to win at odds of 4-5, according to the New York Racing Association.

I'll Have Another and jockey Mario Gutierrez have come from behind to earn close, dramatic finishes in the previous two races in this year's Triple Crown, surprising nearly everyone, according to the Daily Racing Form.

The horse was "lightly raced" and only competed in two prep races leading up to the Derby. He competed in the shadow of  Bodemeister, who was predicted to win the Kentucky Derby.

Bodemeister also set a "sizzling pace" at Preakness that I'll Have Another surprisingly beat by digging in and surging ahead. But with Bodemeister not running in the Belmont, the Form says I'll Have Another is the best horse that will enter a starting gate on Saturday.

In fact, I'll Have Another's only disappointing appearance was at Saratoga for the Hopeful Stakes in September 2011. The track became a "quagmire" due to heavy rains and the horse suffered because of it, DRF reported.

While I'll Have Another isn't expected to beat 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat's world record time for a 1.5 mile race on dirt, a Belmont win could cement legend status for the horse.

"That's the measuring stick for a champion," Daily Racing Forum's Dan Illman said.

But I'll Have Another's trainer, Doug O'Neill, has long believed in the horse's potential.

"We realize every day how blessed we are to be around such a brilliant race horse," he told CNN. "I'm very confident. This horse continues to train fantastic and with each new track and new surface, he's thriving. Most horses, it takes a while to settle into new surfaces and he's doing great. I really think we have a horse that can do it."

Going in to the Belmont, Kentucky Derby third place finisher Dullahan has 5-1 odds, with Union Rags at 6-1, according to the Belmont's website.

The Belmont is considered to be the longest and most grueling of the three Triple Crown races.

The horses run one complete lap over 1.5 miles. The Derby 1.25 miles, and the Preakness' 1 and 3/16 miles.

The actual Triple Crown did not acquire its name until after Sir Barton won all three races in 1919. Only 11 horses have won the prestigious Triple Crown, and a win has not happened since 1978, when Affirmed grabbed the title.

Three decades stand out as having multiple Triple Crown winners: the 1930s with three winners, the 1940s with four, and the 1970s with three, most notably Secretariat in 1973.

Secretariat also set the world record in 1973,winning the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths and running the course in 2 minutes, 24 seconds.

Since the 1970s, other horses have come close to winning the Triple Crown. In 2004, the largest crowd in New York Racing history, 120, 139 people, attended the Belmont to see Smarty Jones attempt the 12th Triple Crown win. Smarty Jones finished second.

In 2003, favored Funny Cide finished third in his attempt. Most recently, Big Brown's Triple Crown hopes were dashed in 2008.

The time leading up to the Belmont Stakes has not been without controversy. A workers strike at Belmont Park was averted this week.

The racetrack's workers, who manage the grounds and put the horses in the gate, have been involved in a contract dispute with the New York Racing Association over wages and health care since 2010.

I'll Have Another's trainer will begin his 45-day suspension, handed down by the California horse-racing authorities, on July 1.

O'Neill was found responsible for high carbon dioxide levels found in 2010 California Del Mar track racer Argenta's blood. However, he was not found guilty of "intentional acts" or any sign that betting was skewed towards Argenta in the race. O'Neill will be able to participate in the Stakes this weekend.

While a blanket of roses is placed on the Kentucky Derby Winner and Black-Eyed Susans for the Preakness victor, it's a blanket of white carnations for the Belmont winner. A corresponding blanket is also placed on the track's statue of Secretariat on race day.

A tradition for race-goers and viewers alike, the Belmont Breeze is the official drink of the Belmont Stakes, like the Kentucky Derby's mint julep and the Preakness' Black-Eyed Susan.

The race will take place at approximately 6:30 p.m. ET at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York.

Check out our previous coverage of all thinks Triple Crown-related:

Crowning glory: The art of Kentucky Derby hats

Triple Crown Drinks: How to make each race's official drink

California suspends Derby-winning trainer over 2010 race

Belmont workers' strike averted leading up to third Triple Crown race

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Filed under: Animals • horses • New York • Race • Sports • U.S.
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe"

    Geeeeehdeeeup Gluepot!!! Weeeeheeeheee!!!

    June 7, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Boomer in Mo

    "lightly raced" for goodness sakes, not raised. If you don't know horse terminology, don't write about horses.

    June 7, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • analacorn

      Ditto!

      June 7, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe"

    Teach us some horse terminology, so we too can run with the big dogs.

    June 7, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe"

    You have strong urges Mary...and that's about it.

    June 7, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe"

    Mein Freund. Welche Seite der Gleise kommen Sie?

    June 7, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Snappy53

    Best of luck to "I'll Have Another"! Hope he wins and it is a safe race for all involved!

    June 8, 2012 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
    • yeahalright

      It's a horse. It doesn't care.

      June 8, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  7. td

    Wish we treated humans as well as we treat these horses.

    June 8, 2012 at 6:57 am | Report abuse |
  8. Littleb

    ...lightly raised...

    June 8, 2012 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
  9. Kay

    I remember the whole Smarty Jones event. People were so sure he was going to win, they were selling betting slips with his name on them on ebay. After he lost they all became just worthless scraps of paper.

    June 8, 2012 at 8:02 am | Report abuse |
  10. NoTags

    Dullahan will upset IHA in the Belmont.

    June 8, 2012 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Snappy53

      Maybe. Maybe (and hopefully) not.

      June 8, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  11. Rebbeca

    I think Horse racing or any animal sport is disgusting that goes for Circus's and zoo's. If you really knew what went on behind the scenes you would fell the same way unless you are a heartless human being like all the ones involved in these sports..... of course just my opinion.

    June 8, 2012 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
    • JohnH

      Circuses and horse racing may have their problems but zoos have come a long way since the small cage steel bars of the 50s. While it is certainly true that not all animals thrive in captivity, even under the best conditions, for many species zoos with advanced breeding programs serve as the species best hope for future survival. Somewhat similarly, high end horse racing tends to be without many of the abuses of the "undercard" tracks and events, and I agree that more needs to be done to protect animals in those smaller and less public venues. But I'd hope you wouldn't paint them all with the same broad brush.

      June 8, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Snappy53

      Horse Racing is not "disgusting", it is a fine sport which has come a long way in trying to make the sport safe for horses and jockeys alike. Yes, accidents and tragedies do happen, unfortunately, just like in many other sports. And no, I am not a heartless human being, far from it. I absolutely adore all animals, and I admire their talents and strengths.

      June 8, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  12. Gail

    Any horse that runs in the Kentucky Derby should have to run ALL 3 RACES!! No fair laying off for 3-5 weeks!! GO "I"LL HAVE ANOTHER"!!!!

    June 8, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Snappy53

      I very much agree.......it isn't fair that some horses are "fresh", giving them an unfair advantage in a race which I'll Have Another is trying to prove himself a champion.

      June 8, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  13. Penny Nickels

    Thank you sir, may I Have Another?

    June 8, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  14. marie

    Go Mario, we are all wishing you the best at our little race track in Vancouver, BC. We know you'll do your best as always.

    June 8, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  15. Killing_time

    Man I sure hope this horse can pull it off. Haven't had a triple crown winner in my lifetime and I sure would like to see one.

    June 8, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Snappy53

      I saw Secretariat win the Belmont (I was there at the track) and it was one of the most exciting moments of my life. I have never heard a roar from a crowd since that even came close. His winning by over 30 lengths was a thrilling moment I will never forget. I was at Churchill Downs when Affirmed won the Derby, and was lucky enough to see Seattle Slew win his Triple Crown, although not in person. Hope you get to see a Triple Crown Winner too. And I would dearly LOVE to see another champion crowned in my lifetime. I had my hopes on Smarty Jones and Big Brown but it never happened. I hope it happens this time, that would be great.

      June 8, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Snappy53

      So sad to just hear that I'll Have Another is injured and will not be running in the Belmont. However, the trainer is doing the right thing, I would not want to see another tragedy happen like poor Barbaro. At least IHA can retire and have fun at the breeding shed.

      June 8, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
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