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. MsPhelix

    Citation did not win the Belmont in 1947 and the Triple Crown in 1948 – the races are all only for 3 year-olds and a horse gets only one chance at them. Citation won the Triple Crown in 1948. P.S. I agree with Boomer in Mo – if you don't know about something, don't right – opps! – write about it.

    June 8, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  2. Matt

    He will not win, because he's injured and will not run this weekend or probably ever again. Story just broke on the Dan Patrick Show. Time to update your stories, CNN.

    June 8, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  3. Rackasa

    Go Canada Go! I'll have another winning the tripple crown will make Canada proud.

    June 8, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  4. Irony_lover

    I love how I just was about to read this article, and now Ill have Another is out of the race...

    June 8, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  5. Penny Nickels

    Looks like I Won't Have Another.

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

      It's a shame, but I guess there is always next year..........

      June 8, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  6. LexDoc

    The horse scratched... leg injury.

    June 8, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff

    bad article CNN. They should really keep their articles current

    June 8, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
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