Derby winner I'll Have Another takes aim at historic run
BALTIMORE — I'll Have Another bucked recent tradition by jetting from illustrious Churchill Downs just two days after winning the 138th Kentucky Derby.
Now settled at gritty Pimlico Race Course, the colt who won as a 15-1 morning-line choice in Kentucky will not go so unnoticed this week. His quest for the Triple Crown and a possible rematch with the horse he chased down May 5 are two of the storylines to watch heading into the 137th Preakness Stakes.
Can I'll Have Another win the second leg?
Four colts have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown in the last 10 years: War Emblem in 2002, Funny Cide in 2003, Smarty Jones in 2004 and Big Brown in 2008. Animal Kingdom came close last year, failing to catch Shackleford down the stretch of the Preakness.
Now, it's I'll Have Another's turn.
Seeking the first Triple Crown since 1978, when Affirmed did it, the Doug O'Neill-trained colt could end up having to face four of the five horses who finished right behind him in the Kentucky Derby.
O'Neill likes the versatility his horse has shown, and he believes I'll Have Another can run with speedy Bodemeister, the Derby runner-up.
"The great thing about our colt is that he's got enough natural speed," O'Neill said. "Bodemeister won't get an easy lead. If he's the only speed there, I'll Have Another won't be that far behind him."
Will Bodemeister be fresh and calm enough?
Trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith had decided before the Kentucky Derby to let Bodemeister run if he wanted to.
He wanted to.
Bodemeister roared to a breathtaking pace and almost went wire-to-wire before I'll Have Another caught him. Baffert hasn't even decided whether he'll run the colt in the Preakness. He was scheduled to visit Bodemeister and Derby sixth-place finisher Liaison in Kentucky this weekend.
If Bodemeister does run, he's likely to be the morning-line favorite despite already running five races this year after going unraced as a 2-year-old.
"I can see that," O'Neill said. "Bodemeister did run a huge race, and coming here, the distance is going to be shorter. I could see how the handicappers would give him an edge."
The Preakness, at 1 3/16 miles, is a furlong shorter than the Derby. Few trainers have fared as well as Baffert at having his horses peak in the middle of the month; he's tied with D. Wayne Lukas and T.J. Healey for the second-most Preakness wins with five (1997, 1998, 2001, 2002 and 2010).