May 5,2012 dawned cloudy and muggy in northern Kentucky. At the historic Churchill Downs racetrack, a record crowd of 165,307 people were waiting for the start of the most well known horse race in America, the Kentucky Derby. Post time came at 6:24 p.m. The favorites were Bodemeister and Union Rags. Not many people paid attention to the chestnut colt in gate 19. That is, until I’ll Have Another outran Bodemeister to win the 138th Kentucky Derby by 1 ½ lengths. Still, many people dismissed it as the colt’s lucky day. But two weeks later on May 19th at the 137th running of the Preakness Stakes, before another record crowd, I’ll Have Another added the second jewel of the Triple Crown to his achievements after a neck and neck battle with Bodemeister in the final furlong. No longer was it just a lucky break. Now people are asking “Will I’ll Have Another be able to win the Triple Crown?
The Triple Crown is a series of 3 races run every year in the US. Only 3-year-old colts and fillies are eligible. The Kentucky Derby, run on the first Saturday in May, is the first leg. The second is the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Downs in Maryland, run the third Saturday in May. The third and final leg is the Belmont Stakes, run the second Saturday in June at Belmont Park in New York. Only 11 horses have ever won the Triple Crown. The last winner was Affirmed in 1978. Since then, 11 horses have tried and failed to capture Thoroughbred horse racing’s brightest jewel.
So far, I’ll Have Another is unbeaten this year. He won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes by 2 ¾ lengths at Santa Anita Park on February 4th. It was his first start of the season and he was a 43-1 long shot. And on April 7th he won the Santa Anita Derby, one of the most prestigious Kentucky Derby prep races. He was also the first horse to win the Derby from post position 19 and the win was jockey Mario Gutierrez’ first ride in the Kentucky Derby.
A bit of trivia:
The colt’s name was inspired by the response that owner J. Paul Reddam gives his wife when she asks if he wants more of her freshly baked cookies.
A neat coincidence: the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo fell on the same day this year and Mario Gutierrez is Mexican.
So, will I’ll Have Another be the first horse to capture the Triple Crown In 34 years? Only time will tell, and I’ll be eagerly waiting to find out on June 9th.