I’ll Have Another now one victory shy of the Triple Crown

It’s only been four years since a thoroughbred came within a victory at the Belmont Stakes to win the Triple Crown.

And it’s been 34 years since a thoroughbred actually accomplished the historic feat.

After winning the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago and the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, I’ll Have Another is one victory shy of capturing horse racing’s Triple Crown. If he can will the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 9, he will have done something that no other horse has accomplished since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978.

What’s impressive about I’ll Have Another is that he has seemingly come out of nowhere despite having a massive amount of success in his last four outings. Despite winning the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes on February 4 and the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 7, I’ll Have Another wasn’t among the favorites to win the Kentucky Derby. And even though he beat out Bodemeister at Churchill Downs two weeks ago, he wasn’t favored to win the Preakness either.

But maybe after jockey Mario Gutierrez once again made all of the right decisions down the stretch at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday, I’ll Have Another will finally get the respect he deserves. For the second time in two weeks, Bodemeister held a lead while heading down the stretch, only to be edged out by I’ll Have Another each time. On Saturday, I’ll Have Another’s victory officially came by a neck after Bodemeister looked like he was going to win easily.

Horse racing doesn’t match the popularity of the four major U.S. sports, or even the UFC for that matter. But if you’re a general sports fan, tune in to the 2012 Belmont Stakes in a few weeks because you could witness history.

2012 Preakness Stakes Winners: 1. I’ll Have Another; 2. Bodemeister; 3. Creative Cause; 4. Zetterholm; 5. Teeth of the Dog; 6. Optimizer; 7. Cozzetti; 8. Tiger Walk; 9. Daddy Nose Best; 10. Went The Day Well; 11. Pretension.

2012 Preakness Stakes Payouts:

I’ll Have Another $8.40 $3.20 $2.80
Bodemeister $3.20 $2.80
Creative Cause $3.60

2.00 EXACTA 9-7 $18.60
1.00 TRIFECTA 9-7-6 $35.40
1.00 SUPERFECTA 9-7-6-4 $424.30

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2012 Preakness Stakes Predictions

After predicting two of the three Kentucky Derby contenders to finish in the money, it’s virtually a guarantee that none of these horses will win anything of substance in this evening’s Preakness Stakes. Book it.

WIN: Bodemeister (3/2)
This is an impressive horse. He finished second behind I’ll Have Another in the Kentucky Derby but he’s never finished lower than second in any of his five career races. He ran out of steam at Churchill Downs two weeks ago but he also had the lead for half the race. I love the trainer-jockey combination of Bob Baffert and Mike Smith, and while taking the chalk isn’t very adventurous I can’t envision a scenario where Bodemeister doesn’t finish in the money. He’s the best of a very weak Preakness field.

PLACE: Creative Cause (13/2)
I admit Creative Cause wasn’t on my radar two weeks ago when predicting the Kentucky Derby. But after going back and taking a look at his race history, he could wind up winning tonight if everything breaks right. Eight of his nine career outings were graded races and his fifth place finish at the Derby was his worst showing to date. Previous to that, he never finished lower than third and was victorious at the Grade II San Felipe Stakes, the Grade I Norfolk Stakes and the Grade II Best Pal Stakes. While he isn’t technically a long shot at 13/2, this is my pick to surprise tonight.

SHOW: I’ll Have Another (3/1)
I’ll Have Another has won his last three races – including the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago – and he still can’t get any love. For whatever reason, people aren’t overly impressed by this horse, despite the fact that he hasn’t lost since his sixth place finish at the Grade I Three Chimney’s Hopeful Stakes on September 5 of last year. Seeing as how I have him finishing in the money but not winning the Preakness Stakes, you’d have to count me among those that aren’t enamored with this contender. I think he’ll place somewhere in the top 3 but Bodemeister is still a better looking horse.

2012 Kentucky Derby Predictions

The 138th running of the Kentucky Derby takes place today, Saturday, May 5. If you’re looking for some guaranteed winners to pay off the mortgage and set up the kids’ college funds, they’re below.

WIN: Dullahan (8/1)
Apparently Dullahan likes the synthetic surfaces better than dirt but I like the trends attached to this contender. Three-time Derby winner Kent Desormeaux will have the mount today and the No. 5 post position has produced 12 Kentucky Derby winners since 1900, which is tied with the rail for most victories. Dullahan is also coming off a victory at the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass and finished second at the Grade III Palm Beach on March 11. The fact that he doesn’t have six career races under his belt scares me a little, but Dullahan has displayed great closing speed in recent races and I like him to at least finish in the money.

PLACE: Bodemeister (13/10)
Bodemeister is the favorite to win Saturday’s race, although Union Rags has the exact same odds. Either way, what attracts me most to Bodemeister is the winning combination of trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith. Baffert has won three Kentucky Derby races in his career (2002, 1998, 1997), while Smith won the 2005 Derby aboard Giacomo. Bodemeister only has four career races under his belt but he finished second at the Grade II San Felipe on March 10 and won the Grade I Arkansas Derby on April 14. No horse has won the Derby that has not run as a 2-year-old since 1888 but I like Bodemeister to finish in the money.

SHOW: Take Charge Indy (11/1)
Considering he’s 5-0 in his career, I thought long about putting Gemologist in the money. But at the end of the day, how can you go against Calvin Borel? The man has won three of the last five Kentucky Derby races and he’ll be coming out of the No. 3 post position, which means he’ll be able to get to the rail faster. Take Charge Indy is also coming off a victory at the Grade I Florida Derby in which he went wire-to-wire.

Other contenders that caught my eye: Gemologist (8/1) and Went The Day Well (25/1)
As previously mentioned, Gemologist hasn’t lost in his five-race career, while Went The Day Well is trained by H. G. Motion and ridden by John Velazquez, who were the winning pair for Animal Kingdom last year.

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