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May 18, 2012

I'll Have Another versus 10 in Preakness Stakes


Baltimore, MD (Sports Network) - Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another tops a field of 11 three-year-olds for Saturday's 137th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. The $1 million, 1 3/16 mile race is the middle jewel of racing's Triple Crown.

Owned by J. Paul Reddam, I'll Have Another is the only horse in a position to become the first Triple Crown champion since Affirmed in 1978. The final race in the series is the 1 1/2 mile Belmont Stakes on June 9.

I'll Have Another, trained by Doug O'Neill, will again be ridden by Mario Gutierrez in Saturday's race. The pair will start from post nine as compared to the 19 hole two weeks ago. In spite of his winning the Run for the Roses the colt is the 5-2 second choice in the morning line.

The Kentucky Derby was the third straight win for the chestnut colt, all with Gutierrez in the saddle. The son of 2005 Travers Stakes winner Flower Alley, I'll Have Another caught pacesetter Bodemeister in deep stretch at Churchill Downs and defeated the 4-1 favorite by 1 1/2 lengths. The win was the first in the Run for the Roses for owner, trainer and jockey.

"I'm looking for energy and for him to maintain his stride. He has such a long stride. He continues to keep that," O'Neill said. "He's got great energy and a great appetite. Those are the basic things I'm looking to maintain."

The colt was 15-1 in the Derby coming off a nose win over Creative Cause in the Santa Anita Derby and a 2 3/4 length victory in the Robert B.Lewis Stakes. I'll Have Another became the first Santa Anita Derby champ to take the Run for the Roses since Sunday Silence in 1989.

"He's a very confident colt. He's a very relaxed colt. He sleeps a lot in his stall, which is a great sign of a big horse. He's very reserved. Then, on the track he's got a lot of energy and spunk, but not nervous energy," O'Neill said. "If he were human, he would have been somebody on stage doing Broadway or a top athlete. He likes the spotlight. He thrives on the attention. That's a special quality."

The Derby win was worth $1,459,600 , giving I'll Have Another career earnings of $2,093,600 with four wins in six starts. He can become the first Derby winner to capture the Preakness since Big Brown four years ago.

"He shipped from California to Kentucky and now to Maryland. He hasn't missed a beat. An average horse couldn't do that. As you ask horses to do things like this, the average horse would lose his appetite and you'd have to back off and slow down," O'Neill said. "I'll Have Another has just been thriving on it. The more we ask him the more he gives. His overall appearance and energy level are just sensational."

Derby runner-up Bodemeister is the 8-5 favcorite for the Preakness after leading the Run for the Roses until yards before the wire. Trained by Bob Baffert, the colt drew post seven with Mike Smith back in the saddle.

"He ran an amazing race," Baffert said about the colt's Run for the Roses. "At the eighth pole, when (jockey) Mike (Smith) went to the left-handed stick, the yellow caution light came on. He tried to fight back and he hung on for second. He was glorious in defeat."

Owned by Zayat Stables, Bodemeister won the Arkansas Derby by 9 1/2 lengths over stablemate Secret Circle. In his stakes debut on March 10 the colt was second to Creative Cause in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita. With two wins in five career starts, all this year, Bodemeister has banked just over $1.1 million.

Baffert, a member of Racing's Hall of Fame, won the Preakness with Kentucky Derby winners Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002) along with Point Given in 2001.

Here is the complete field for the Preakness in post position order: Tiger Walk, 30-1, Kent Desormeaux; Teeth of the Dog, 15-1, Joe Bravo; Pretension, 30-1, Javier Santiago; Zetterholm, 20-1, Junior Alvarado; Went the Day Well, 6-1, John Velazquez; Creative Cause, 6-1, Joel Rosario; Bodemeister, 8-5, Mike Smith; Daddy Nose Best, 12-1, Julien Leparoux; I'll Have Another, 5-2, Mario Gutierrez; Optimizer, 30-1, Corey Nakatani and Cozzetti, 30-1, Jose Lezcano.

Post-time for the second leg of the Triple Crown will be 6:25 p.m. (et).

Saturday in Baltimore will be clear with a post-time temperature of near 80.

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