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Feb 09, 2012

I'll Have Another - The Overlay of the Century

By: by Jeff Frank, Contributing Editor


(Sports Network) - How many times does a gambler like a horse and wish the odds could have been much higher than they were? It does not happen that often but when the unforeseen takes place, it's best to take the money and ask questions later.

I'll Have Another, 12-1 on the morning line in this past Saturday's Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita, was surprisingly 43-1 come post time against seven other runners, four of which were stakes winners. Furthermore, the three favorites - Liaison, Rousing Sermon, and Sky Kingdom - were all represented on many Top 10 Kentucky Derby lists.

The longshot came into the race off a long layoff - his last appearance was all the way back in September at Saratoga in the Hopeful Stakes, a race he was beaten by 19-lengths. However, it is important to note the Hopeful was run in the slop, a surface I'll Have Another apparently did not appreciate. He also had to travel cross-country from his home base of California and that might have played a factor in the poor performance as well.

Prior to that race, I'll Have Another finished second to Creative Cause (one of the this year's leading three-year-olds) in the Grade II Best Pal Stakes a little over a month after breaking his maiden in his debut at Hollywood Park.

As noted in last week's column, trainer Doug O'Neill had worked his chestnut colt longer distances in January to prepare him for the two-turn, 1 1/16-mile race. In fact, I'll Have Another put forth a bullet six-furlong workout on Jan. 11 in 1:12 2/5, followed by a pair of seven-furlong works leading into the Robert B. Lewis.

It also must be stated that I'll Have Another is bred to race over a distance of ground. His sire, Flower Alley, won the 2005 Travers Stakes. Flower Alley is by Distorted Humor, who has sent out both Funny Cide and Drosselmeyer to win Triple Crown races.

I'll Have Another's dam side is even more impressive with multiple "stayers" going back over the last four generations, including the likes of Arch, Kris S, Pleasant Tap, Roberto, and Pleasant Colony.

Given all of his credentials, there was no reason he should have gone off at 43-1. Sometimes bettors get lucky and those are the instances on which to capitalize.

As for the race itself, it was the second fastest Robert B. Lewis as I'll Have Another finished the 1 1/16-mile in a brisk 1:40 4/5. After running his third quarter in 23 2/5 seconds, the $35,000 purchase came home in 30 2/5. The track was playing fast all day as Ultimate Eagle won the 1 1/8-mile Strub Stakes in 1:47, but breaking 1:41 for 1 1/16-miles is still extremely notable.

I'll Have Another prevailed easily by 2 3/4-lengths with Empire Way rallying on the rail for second. The favored Liaison, who didn't fire, dumped rider Rafael Bejarano through the stretch after being interfered with by Groovin' Solo. Moreover, Sky Kingdom barely lifted a hoof with his sixth-place finish.

I'll Have Another will stick to morning workouts until returning to the races in the Santa Anita Derby on Apr. 7.

ALPHA REPEATS COUNT FLEET WIN IN THE WITHERS

Alpha dominated an outclassed group in the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct on Saturday taking the Grade II race by 3 1/4-lengths over 44-1 shot Speightcity.

The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained colt ran the 1 1/16-miles in 1:44 1/5 as the 3-10 favorite. The most important part of Alpha's races are usually the few seconds before the race and the initial moment he comes out of the starting gate as he's had much more trouble in those spots compared to the running of the race itself.

In the Withers, Alpha entered the gate without a hitch and broke well from the outside post. The son of Bernardini went a tad wide around the first turn but settled in nicely a few lengths off the early pace set by How Do I Win. He then pulled into the lead at the head of the stretch and drew clear with three taps of the whip from jockey Ramon Dominguez.

Alpha will more than likely rest in the month of March while preparing for the Wood Memorial the same day as the Santa Anita Derby. The public will get a good read on how much he has improved in that race as his competition will be much stiffer in the $1 million race.

A MAIDEN NO MORE

Battle Hardened came into the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs without a victory in three career starts. Now the son of Giant's Causeway has $120,000 of graded earnings after winning the Grade III race by 1 1/4-lengths over Prospective.

The Tampa Bay Derby looks like the logical next step for Battle Hardened and quite possibly Prospective, Reveron, and Ravelo's Boy as those three were noses apart for second, third, and fourth.

Don't expect any one of those four to be Kentucky Derby contenders as the race was run in a slow 1:44 2/5 seconds with the winner needing almost 32 seconds to finish his final five-sixteenths. Older horses ran the 1 1/16-miles in 1:43 earlier on the card.

KEY ALLOWANCE RACE ON THURSDAY

A pair of impressive maiden winners will meet at Santa Anita on Thursday when Bob Baffert's Fed Biz hooks up with Mike Puype's Consulado. Both were beaten in their debuts but came back strong in their next start.

Fed Biz won at Santa Anita on Dec. 30 stopping the clock in an impressive 1:35 2/5 for the one-mile event while Consulado won by 7 1/4-lengths going 6 1/2- Furlongs in 1:15 flat. Fed Biz is the more regally bred of the two and has the advantage in this two-turn race.

FUTURE WAGER - POOL ONE

The first Future Wager comes this weekend with 24 wagering interests (23 individual horses and the "Field," which includes every other horse).

Look for all 12 of my "Dirty Dozen" to be single entrants along with these 11, listed in alphabetical order: Battle Hardened, Consortium, Dullahan, Empire Way, Ever So Lucky, Liaison, Midnight Transfer, Motor City, Rousing Sermon, Russian Greek, and Take Charge Indy. Of these 11, the ones I would consider wagering on are Empire Way and Russian Greek as both are bred to run all day.

The Key question of the week is how will the results of the Robert B. Lewis affect the odds in the Future Wager?

First off, Liaison will certainly be much higher than he would have if he had won. Second, I'll Have Another will now not be lumped in with the "Field." In addition, a lot of bettors might think his victory was a fluke so his odds could still be high, just not as humongous as they were last Saturday. Sky Kingdom will most likely be one of the "Field" horses so those who want to toss the race will not be helped out by the results.

I expect Union Rags to be favored with Algorithms a close second-choice. People will still bet Hansen so look for between 15 and 20-1 on the two-year- old champ. Out of Bounds and El Padrino will also get a lot of action, as will Creative Cause and Alpha.

For those wagering in Pool 1, I would suggest putting a few dollars on I'll Have Another and Gemologist, along with the aforementioned Empire Way and Russian Greek, if those two are single entrants.

THE JEFF FRANK "DIRTY DOZEN"

1) Union Rags - Looks to continue the trend of two three-year-old starts before the Derby; 2) Algorithms - His first two-turn race will answer more questions; 3) I'll Have Another - Won't be 43-1 again; 4) Gemologist - Had his first work of the year on Sunday - 3 in 39 4/5; 5) Discreet Dancer - Needs to show he can handle two turns; 6) Alpha - Has the right pedigree for the first Saturday in May; 7) Out of Bounds - Awaits the San Felipe in early March; 8) Creative Cause - A series of six-furlong works will give him more foundation for future two-turn races; 9) El Padrino - Pletcher's fourth horse in the top nine moves up on off track; 10) Hansen - Must rebound in his next start or he is off the list; 11) Sabercat - Hasn't worked since early December; 12) Fed Biz - A big win on Thursday will shoot him further up the ladder



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