ELMONT, N.Y. — I'll Have Another overcame the challenge of 20 horses in the Kentucky Derby and the first dose of the burden of expectations in the Preakness Stakes. But to complete the Triple Crown, he'll have to deal with being the favorite for the first time.
I'll Have Another is the 4-5 morning line top choice in the wagering, and it's not close. He'll start from the No. 11 post Saturday evening complete with the target on his back.
"Several good horses in here, but obviously I'll Have Another is the horse to beat," Street Life trainer Chad Brown said. "He's for real."
Jerry Crawford, whose Donegal Racing owns Dullahan (5-1 on the morning line), said, "It's going to take the race of one of these horses' lives to beat I'll [Have] Another."
Perhaps even more so given that the No. 11 post gives jockey Mario Gutierrez a fine vantage point from which to survey the race.
"We're able to kind of see how the pace sets up," trainer Doug O'Neill said. "If they're crawling, we'll be hopefully leading the crawl, and if they're flying, we'll be sitting in behind the horses flying."
It's not clear yet how the pace will turn out; I'll Have Another likely would benefit from a medium pace and the ability to stalk from just off the lead.
Lukas OK after injury
D. Wayne Lukas rode in a horse van from Louisville, Ky., to New York from Monday night into Tuesday and didn't get any sleep. He figured that would happen after grazing his horses in the afternoon.
But that plan changed after Hamazing Destiny "squealed up" and hit the Hall of Fame trainer in the head with his right front foot. Lukas needed a trip to the hospital and stitches but was in good spirits and back on the track Wednesday.
"The bad part is I still got a headache," Lukas said. "The good part was, I got a date with the head nurse and I sold two doctors horses while I was there."
A similar incident occurred before the Belmont in 1989, when trainer Charlie Whittingham was kicked in the head by Sunday Silence, who was going for the Triple Crown. Sunday Silence finished second.
Lukas will saddle 20-1 long shot Optimizer on Saturday and would be fine with a similar result.
"You bet I'll take second," he said.
Unstoppable U going on
Trainer Ken McPeek wasn't sure even Tuesday whether he would run Unstoppable U in the Belmont along with Atigun (30-1). He'll give it a shot at 30-1, making this a field of 12.
"My horses admittedly are not of the class level of I'll Have Another, Dullahan, Union Rags," McPeek said. "They haven't proven it at that level. I really kind of needed to run both of them to have a real shot."
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