By Gene Kershner
I'll Have Another will start his quest for a place in history in gate No. 11 at Belmont Park late Saturday afternoon. This morning, the Derby and Preakness winner drew an outside post in Belmont's Garden Terrace for Saturday's Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, the third jewel in thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown.
Trainer Doug O'Neill continues to beam about his champion colt, "He’s doing great. He’s continued to gallop good, his energy’s been good, his appetite’s been strong, and he’s handled this whole journey as good as you could possibly ask a horse. He hasn’t lost a bit of his flesh at all, his coat continues to shine and look great, so we couldn’t ask for him to be coming in to this any better.”
Some fun facts and thoughts about the post draw and the Belmont Stakes as you count away the hours until the big race on Saturday, sure to be on a number of television screens across the country:
* Post No. 11 has rendered just two Belmont winners since 1905. Post No. 12 has never produced a winner. The winninest posts are No. 1 (23) and Nos. 3 and 5 (14). Due to the length of the race the post position isn't as big a concern as it is in the Derby when 20 horses are lined up in the gate.
* I'll Have Another was made the 4-5 morning line favorite. The lowest odds on a horse going to post at the Belmont was Big Brown, four years ago, when he was 3-10 in his failed Triple Crown quest. A big driver in the odds on a horse with Triple Crown aspirations is the souvenir factor, wherein a lot of $2 win tickets will be purchased on I'll Have Another. Dullahan is the second choice at 5-1; Union Rags, the third choice at 6-1; and Paynter, was listed at 8-1.
* The field rose to 12 yesterday when George and Lori Hall and trainer Kelly Hall, winners of last year's Belmont Stakes, decided to enter My Adonis in the field. Ruler On Ice won last year's race in sloppy conditions at odds of 25-1.
* "C" is the most popular first initial for winning Belmont runners. It has taken 20 runnings of the race. The letter "I" has graced the winner's circle twice. Are you seeing a pattern here?
* Trainer Kenny McPeek saddles two horses in the race, both at odds of 30-1. Unstoppable U, likely an early speed contender and Atigun both drew inside posts.
* Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who will saddle Optimizer in the big race, was taken to Winthrop University Hospital in nearby Mineola Tuesday afternoon after one of his horses reared up and struck him on top of his head. “I don’t need this on Belmont week, but I guess these things happen,” Lukas said from the hospital. “I will be fine, it’s just a matter of getting it cleaned up. I fully expect to be at the track tomorrow.”
Here's a look at the field for the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes:
|8||Guyana Star Dweej||Shivmangal||Desormeaux||50-1|
|11||I'll Have Another||O'Neill||Gutierrez||4-5|