BELMONT, N.Y. – Owner J. Paul Reddam and jockey Mario Gutierrez were on hand at Belmont Park Thursday morning as Triple Crown candidate I’ll Have Another galloped around the 1 ½-mile oval, with the only difference in his routine being that he departed the Belmont Stakes barn for the first time.
All the contenders for Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes, in which I’ll Have Another is attempting to become racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 34 years, spent the night in the special barn, where they will be housed until the 1 ½-mile race.
“He settled right in like we thought he would,” reported trainer Doug O’Neill. “He had a really good day of training today. He had really good energy and he cooled out really well, so we’re very happy with where we are two days out.”
Reddam, who purchased I’ll Have Another as a 2-year-old for $35,000, recalled watching and wagering on the Belmont as several horses attempted to accomplish what no thoroughbred has done since Affirmed in 1978.
“I bet against War Emblem, but I bet Medaglia d’Oro, so I lost anyway,” he said. “I bet against Funny Cide, because we had a horse in there – Ten Most Wanted – I hit the exacta although we ran second. Big Brown I did not bet against because I thought he was a cinch. That’s what scares me about the race on Saturday, because a lot of things can go wrong, as Big Brown illustrated.
“Smarty Jones, I was really rooting for Smarty Jones. With three-eighths of a mile to go, it looked like it was happening. Certainly Tom Durkin thought it was happening. But the race is a mile and a half, it’s not a mile and a quarter, and a sixteenth, or an eighth, or three-sixteenths, right?”
Reddam recalled indulging in a bit of wishful thinking the morning of the 2008 Belmont .
“The morning that Big Brown is going to run, I remember thinking, ‘Oh, Big Brown is going to win the Triple Crown. Why is this happening? Why can’t it just wait for us?’ But that was kind of a joking thought. And here we are. I didn’t wish ill on Big Brown, by any means, but it’s quite a long shot that we’re actually here.”
The plans to have O’Neill, Reddam, and Gutierrez throw out the first pitch for Friday’s New York Mets-New York Yankees game at Yankee Stadium have been canceled as the tandem will have Boxeur des Rues competing in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap at 5:44 p.m.
Photo Credit NYRA, Adam Coglianese