NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Triple Crown contender I’ll Have Another turned in another strong gallop as he prepares for the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.
On a sunny Thursday morning, the colt again went once around the oval, duplicating the 1 1-2 miles of the race.
“He had a really good day of training,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “He showed good energy and he cooled out really well. I’m very happy with where we are two days out.”
Like all the other horses in the race, I’ll Have Another has already concluded his serious training. The mission for trainers is to keep their horses keen and ready with gallops rather than timed workouts that emphasize speed.
Some horses will also get paddock schooling to familiarize them with the saddling area. Belmont contenders Street Life, Dullahan, Paynter and Union Rags all spent time in the paddock during the live racing card Thursday.
O’Neill reluctantly passed on the offer to throw out the first pitch Friday night at Yankee Stadium before the Mets vs. Yankees game.
The timing was just too tight.
O’Neill is running Boxeur des Rues in the Brooklyn Handicap, which is set to go at 5:44 p.m.
The Brooklyn is an important test on several levels. It is one of the few dirt races run at the Belmont Stakes distance of 1 1-2 miles. More important, it will help jockey Mario Gutierrez get used to a track he is unfamiliar with.
An unknown rider before his Kentucky Derby victory, Gutierrez has never ridden at Belmont. This will be his trial run over the track at the Belmont distance. Boxeur des Rues and I’ll Have Another are owned by J. Paul Reddam.
“They wanted us there at 6:15,” O’Neill said of the ballpark deadline. “The Reddams were kind enough to offer a helicopter, but at the end of the day, it’s not going to work. It would be an unbelievable experience. But I think more importantly having Boxer in the Brooklyn and having him run good, and giving Mario experience, is the most important thing.”
“Any help I can get before the race, like racing that long, is going to be really good for me,” he said. “I can go and see how it feels to be on this kind of track. It’s going to help a lot.”
O’Neill did get to throw out a first pitch at Camden Yards in the days leading to the Preakness. Gutierrez handled similar duties at a Los Angeles Dodgers game.
Count Michael Matz among the trainers unhappy with the detention barn in place for all Belmont runners this year.
The barn is monitored around the clock. Anyone interacting with the horses, including trainers, veterinarians, exercise riders and owners, will have to be logged in and out. The barn was set up as part of last-minute changes to ensure a fair running of the race. All horses reported by noon Wednesday.
Matz objected to the change as both a trainer and a father.
He is based at the Fair Hills Center, a bucolic horse park in the heart of Maryland horse country. He would rather have Union Rags spend time in that setting than be in lockdown at Belmont.
“He adjusted fine,” Matz said. “He’s a very laid-back horse. It’s a little inconvenience to be in this situation. I don’t know that the horses are going to be able to relax as well as they would in a quieter barn, but it’s New York.”
The recent announcement of the security barn scrambled Matz’s plans to attend son Alex’s graduation on Friday morning from Upland Country Day School in Kennett Square, Pa.
Without the detention barn, Matz and the horse would have arrived Friday afternoon.
“It’s annoying,” he said. “I have to drive back today. I would have saved me a trip and a hotel room.”
New York Racing Association officials hope to lure more than 100,000 fans for I’ll Have Another’s Triple Crown bid.
The wild card is the weather, and they might get lucky.
The forecast calls for a partly cloudy day with temperatures in the low 80s. There is a 20 percent chance of rain in the evening, presumably after the race is run at 6:40 p.m.
Will I’ll Have Another run straight into the history books Saturday? Make your prediction below!
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