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Horse Racing Enthusiasts Abuzz for I'll Have Another's Running of The Triple Crown - it's gotta be heart - BREAKING NEWS - IHA scratched because of tendonitis
Like a giant horse fly descending for a feeding, the world of horse racing enthusiasts is abuzz with weather reports, strategies between jockeys, trainers and owners, the fresh horse meat coming into Saturday’s third leg of the Triple Crown, nerves, and jokes such as Letterman’s about his pick for The Kentucky Derby – ‘the horse I picked to win was so slow, the jockey packed a sandwich.’
With IHA’s (I’ll Have Another) winnings presently at $2,693,600 – including first place purses from the last three races he won, Santa Anita Derby, and of course the first two legs of the Triple Crown, which include The Kentucky Derby and Preakness – he wins a mere $600,000 in contrast this Saturday at Belmont when he noses his way across the finish line.
Why such a vote of confidence when only eleven horses have won the Triple Crown in the past 137 years? (Sir Barton, Gallant Fox, Omaha, War Admiral, Whirlaway, Count Fleet, Assault, Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed) Because I’ll Have Another has the heart.
I’ve read horse racing blogs and rags about IHA’s eleventh spot coming out of the shoot, how 25 year old jockey, Marion Gutierrez, and trainer, Doug O’Neil, are pre running the race, while IHA rests, beginning today with the assistance of retired jockey Richard Migliore who will assist Gutierrez with strategy. Migliore has personally won more than 4,450 races – many of them at Belmont. (Jockey Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey was their first choice, but he was required to decline because of his position as NBC analyst)
There are those who say I’ll Have Another’s post position, 11 out of 12 (the higher the number, the further the horse has to run to covet the spot by the rail), is no big deal since the Belmont is a mile and a half long race. This race allows plenty of time to compensate for a rough start out of the gate.
IHA was purchased for a mere $35,000 early in 2011. For that amount one can buy 3 nice Harleys, one decent shotgun of English manufacture, a used fifth-wheel camper, or a pre-owned Corvette. In other words, IHA was a damned fine investment. With more than a hundred million wagered on Saturday’s race, breeding fees following his win at more than his purchase price per shot still take some time to add up.
Only 11 horses in the 137 years running of the Triple Crown have captured horse racing’s greatest achievement, winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. None are presently alive. The last Triple Crown winner was Affirmed in 1978 and 11 horses have managed to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown since before losing at Belmont.
What does IHA get out of a win? Likely a run in the Breeder’s Cup, retirement and stud service on a farm in Kentucky – not a bad life after this past year’s whirlwind ride on the fast track of horse racing.
So while people in the know discuss how if it rains IHA doesn’t have a chance (the race he did lose was on a muddy track), how he has competed against 40 horses to take the winner’s circle this Saturday, and how jockey and trainer are strategizing the running and the winning, it gets down to the heart of one horse on one Saturday in June.
The weather can be perfect, the trainer can be an expert, the jockey can be the most experienced in the field and know his horse inside and out, but it comes down to IHA. We know he is fast, we know he has stamina (this is his third race in five weeks), but does he have the heart that when given his nudge will take him across the finish line first making him the twelfth to take The Triple Crown. There are many who are betting he does.