Reddam Racing LLC’s 3-year-old colt, who defeated Bodemeister by 1 ½ lengths to win the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs two weeks earlier, was pushed to the limit to prevail by a neck over the Bob Baffert-trained pacesetter in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
The 13-race thoroughbred card generated an all-sources handle of $80,463,005. The handle ranked as the sixth highest for Pimlico’s signature day.
“The numbers say it all. We had a tremendous event,” Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas said. “We knew in 2009 when we changed the landscape of the infield it would take three or four years to get to where we needed to get, and we are back. The crowd out there now is in the 21-35 group. They’re here to have a good time, not to cause mayhem. First-rate entertainment and world class racing is a winning combination.”
Saddled by Doug O’Neill, I’ll Have Another, who received a flawless ride from Mario Gutierrez to win his fourth straight race this year without defeat, is now eligible to become the 12th Triple Crown champion in the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 9.
Bodemeister, the 8-5 favorite who is trained by five-time Preakness-winning trainer Bob Baffert, set the pace for most of the 1 3/16-mile spring classic under jockey Mike Smith, only to be caught in the shadow of the finish line by the Derby winner. I’ll Have Another, who was clocked in 1:55.90 under fair skies, returned $8.40 to win as the 3-1 second choice in the field of 11.
Bodemeister finished 8 ¾ lengths clear of third-place finisher Creative Cause, the 6-1 fourth choice ridden by Joel Rosario. Zetterholm finished fourth, another three lengths back.
I’ll Have Another settled off the early pace set by Bodemeister, racing on the outside in fourth place around the first turn and along the backstretch. The son of Flower Alley steadily advanced to third on the turn for home, before Gutierrez saved ground while slipping inside a tiring Creative Cause on the turn into the stretch in pursuit of Bodemeister, who opened a three-length lead in mid-stretch. I’ll Have Another took out after the leader and gradually stuck out his neck at the wire to keep his Triple Crown hopes alive.
In the 1 ½-mile Belmont, the $35,000 purchase by J. Paul Reddam has the opportunity to join Triple Crown champions Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978).
Preakness Stakes Quotes
Doug O’Neill (winning trainer in winner’s circle, I’ll Have Another) – “I’m just numb. I could see him and I felt like he was coming, but you never want to expect that he’s going to be in front. I saw him coming. It seemed like the stretch never ends. Thank God. Usually you want it to end. Incredible.”
Mario Gutierrez (winning jockey, I’ll Have Another) – "This is not about me. We talked about it with Mr. Reddam and Mr. O’Neill. We wanted to be a little bit closer to Bodemeister this time because normally that horse runs a huge race. My horse has a tremendous kick in the end. He has been proving that in the last three races. He didn’t disappoint again today.”
“I want to put the pressure a little bit on the side because the credit he earned all this. He has proven a lot of people wrong. I just have to prepare because I want to be at the same level as him. He’s an amazing horse.
Bob Baffert (trainer, Bodemeister, 2nd) – “It's one of those things where it's good for the sport. It's good for the Belmont. It's tough.
"I felt really good about where he was. He looked like he was traveling nicely down the backside and coming to the three-eighths pole, he just sat on him. The fractions were more reasonable today, so turning for home I really thought he was going to do it. He just got a little late there at the end. The winner's a good horse. It was a good horse race. I really can't complain. We didn't win it, but my horse ran his race.
"The winner's a good horse. He'll get the respect now that he deserves. The California horses are really tough. They ran 1-2-3. I'm proud that as a trainer my horse showed up and he ran his race. He just got beat."
Mike Smith (jockey, Bodemeister, 2nd) – “I thought I put him away but he (I’ll Have Another) reached up and got us with three strides. Two great horses and I give them all the credit for what they did.”
Mike Harrington (trainer, Creative Cause, 3rd ) – “He just got outrun. He always brings his best race. He just couldn’t outrun those horses today. What can you do? You’ve got to try to win the race. Joel Rosario tried to win the race. I have no regrets. He probably won it for I’ll Have Another.”
Joel Rosario (jockey, Creative Cause, 3rd) – Not Available for Comment.
Richard Dutrow (trainer, Zetterholm, 4th) – “We’re happy. He’s not supposed to beat the top two, so we are really pleased with the way he ran today.”
Junior Alvarado (jockey, Zetterholm, 4th) -- “He was there and was coming from behind. We were almost last and when I asked him, he started to pick it up. He ran a huge race.”
Michael Matz (trainer, Teeth of the Dog, 5th) – “I thought he ran nice. I'm going to have to watch the replay over again. Joe (Bravo) was happy with him. He said he never gave up and tried real hard, and he's a horse that's only going to get better with experience and age."
Joe Bravo (jockey, Teeth of the Dog, 5th) – “We ran our race today. The race didn’t develop the way we thought it would. He ran a good race. He was the most lightly raced horse of the whole bunch today. He never stopped trying. He’s got a great future.”
D. Wayne Lukas (trainer, Optimizer, 6th) – “The two times I saw him go by he looked fine. It looked like he finished good. I thought he had a chance. We were in the clear turning for home.”
Corey Nakatani (jockey, Optimizer 6th) – “I think we got fifth or sixth. The two horses in front were very, very tough today. There is not much more I can say.”
Dale Romans (trainer, Cozzetti, 7th) – “It looked like he was going to make a big move and he just flattened out. He’s a good horse. He just hasn’t shown what he can do. I did get excited turning for home. It was an amazing race. We have a Triple Crown on the line. That’s good for racing.”
Jose Lezcano (jockey, Cozzetti, 7th) – “I got him into the position I wanted. I asked him for a kick and he was kind of even.”
Ignacio Correas (trainer, Tiger Walk, 8th) – “We gave it shot. It didn’t look like he had any trouble. I was happy for the winner and a chance for the Triple Crown. It is good for the sport.”
Ramon Dominguez (jockey, Tiger Walk, 8th) – “I had an absolutely beautiful perfect trip and I was able to get him in good position laying fourth or fifth and in striking range. But when we reached the three-eighths pole he showed signs of getting tired and it was difficult for him to keep up.”
Steve Asmussen (trainer, Daddy Nose Best, 9th) – “He kind of stumbled away from there and that’s how it went.”
Julien Leparoux (jockey, Daddy Nose Best, 9th) – “He had a little jump at the gate. After that, he had a tough, tough race.”
Graham Motion (trainer, Went the Day Well, 10th) – “No excuses. Johnny (Velazquez) said he ran out of horse down the backside. He was right with the winner and he really had no excuse. Just ran flat.
John Velazquez (jockey, Went the Day Well, 10th) – “He broke a little slow. But I put him right where I wanted to be. In the first turn, I was right behind the leader and by the backstretch, I was done. I mean, he didn’t respond at all for whatever reason. Very disappointing.”
Chris Grove (trainer, Pretension, 11th) – “ (Javier) Santiago put him where he wanted. It looked like Bodemeister had to use himself a little bit to get in front. We just got outran.”
Javier Santiago (jockey, Pretension, 11th) – “I was able to stay close to the pace until about the three-eighths and from there, that was it.”