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Jun 15, 2012

I'll Have Another finishes first in final poll


New York, NY (Sports Network) - The results of the final NTRA Three-Year-Old Poll for 2012 are in and first place belongs to Kentucky Derby and Preakness champ I'll Have Another. The National Poll continues through the Breeders' Cup with a tie in the latest voting.

I'll Have Another, a unanimous selection last week, finished with 41 of 49 top votes and 436 points. Owned by J. Paul Reddam, the chestnut colt was unable to run in Saturday's 144th Belmont Stakes after suffering a leg injury. The colt was subsequently retired from racing.

"This is extremely tough for all of us. It's far from tragic but it's extremely disappointing," said trainer Doug O'Neill on Friday.

Reflecting the finishes from the Run for the Roses and Preakness, second place went to Bodemeister. The runner-up in the first two legs of the Triple Crown received two first-place votes and 426 points. Trained by Bob Baffert, the colt could make his next start in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in July.

Climbing from fifth to third was Belmont Stakes champ Union Rags. Trained by Michael Matz, the colt picked up six top votes and 418 points.

"We always thought this horse had Triple Crown potential," said Matz. "When we trained him, we gave him four races as a two-year-old and gave him a rest and had a good plan. He never missed a beat."

Holding onto fourth is Santa Anita Derby runner-up Creative Cause. The colt finished with 299 points.

Belmont Stakes pacesetter and runner-up Paynter jumped from 10th to fifth off his narrow loss to Union Rags. Trained by Bob Baffert, the colt received 286 points.

Rounding out the top 10 are Belmont Stakes favorite Dullahan (173), Believe You Can (137), Trinniberg (106), Mark Valeski (81 and Hansen (55).

Week 15 of the National Poll shows a tie for first between Pimlico Special winner Alternation and Met Mile champ Shackleford. The two four-year-old colts are knotted with 373 points. Alternation picked up 12 first-place votes to Shackleford's 11.

The two have both been nominated to this Saturday's Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs.

"(The Stephen Foster) was always a race we were going to try to make," Alternation's trainer Donnie Von Hemel said. "I think with the Oaklawn Handicap and Pimlico Special, he's had a couple of races that make him fit in the race. We're happy and we're looking forward to it."

Game On Dude, trained by Bob Baffert, moved up one position to third with six top votes and 294 points.

"The ($500,000) Hollywood Gold Cup (July 7) is the next step," Baffert said.

Probable Foster Handicap favorite Wise Dan was fourth with eight first-place votes and 277 points. His stablemate Successful Dan was sixth with 200 points.

Separating the two Dans is leading three-year-old I'll Have Another. The newly retired colt picked up nine top votes and 227 points.

"It's been an incredible ride, a real blast," trainer Doug O'Neill said on the colt. "Because of I'll Have Another, we got to do things we never would have done. The whole journey that happens with the Triple Crown is amazing. I hope and pray that we'll have the same type of run with another horse down the road. We're taking notes and we're going to do it again."

Making his 2012 debut on Saturday was Eclipse Award winner Acclamation. Trained by Don Warren, Acclamation won his third straight Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park. He was rewarded with two first-place votes and 166 points to jump into the seventh spot.

"The ultimate goal is the Breeder's Cup Turf," Warren noted. "We'll look at the races we ran in last year. Who knows, we may even want to look at the Hollywood Gold Cup. I'd like to keep him on the turf, though."

In eighth was Caleb's Posse with 155 points. The four-year-old has been second in all three 2012 starts. He's followed by Bodemeister with 112 points and Union Rags who got one top vote and 103 points to complete the top 10.

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