“He looks fantastic this morning,” said Sisterson. “He ate everything up last night and is a very happy horse. He walked the shedrow this morning. I have to speak with Doug, but it’s likely he will go to the main track at some point this week.”
“He came out of the Preakness fantastic, just like he came out of the Derby,” said Sisterson. “He acts like he never even ran a race.”
I’ll Have Another, who is owned by J. Paul and Zillah Reddam’s Reddam Racing LLC, carries a four-race winning streak into the Belmont, having also won Santa Anita’s Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis in February and Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in April. He’ll be the 31st horse to head into the Belmont with a chance to win the Triple Crown, one of the most elusive prizes in sports.
Since 1919, when Sir Barton became the first to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont, only 11 horses have managed to sweep all three races, most recently in 1978 when Affirmed beat archrival Alydar by a head in the “Test of the Champion.” Five years earlier, Secretariat became the first horse since Citation (1948) to win the Triple Crown, with his 31-length Belmont triumph ending a 25-year drought, and in 1977 Seattle Slew became the first undefeated Triple Crown winner with his Belmont victory running his record to 9-0.
Completing the roster of champions are Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), and Assault (1946).
Beyond the 11 champions, the 1 ½-mile Belmont has tripped up 19 Triple Crown hopefuls, most recently Big Brown, who did not finish behind longshot winner Da’ Tara in 2008. There were consecutive Triple Crown tries from 2002-2004, with the Bob Baffert-trained War Emblem finishing eighth behind Sarava in 2002, New York-bred Funny Cide coming in third behind Empire Maker in 2003, and Smarty Jones being caught by Birdstone in the shadow of the wire before a record 120,139 fans in 2004.