BALTIMORE — I'll Have Another may be getting all the attention as the Kentucky Derby winner, but when it comes to Saturday's Preakness Stakes, everyone's focused on Bodemeister.
Bob Baffert's horse is the morning line favorite at 8-5 odds from post No. 7, and I'll Have Another and the rest of the 11-horse field are talking about beating the Derby runner-up.
"In the best of all possible worlds, I think Bodemeister, that Derby race has got to tell something on him. You can't run as fast and as hard as he did and not have it affect you," said Barry Irwin, whose Team Valor owns Went the Day Well. "I'll Have Another, if he wants to win the Triple Crown or win the Preakness, the onus is on him to go after Bodemeister."
Had the wire come up just a bit sooner at Churchill Downs, like if this were the Preakness at 1 3/16 miles, Bodemeister could have been wearing the roses. His resume is stronger than I'll Have Another, the second betting choice at 5-2 from the No. 9 post.
"Bob Baffert, he's won five of these. I've never run a horse here," I'll Have Another trainer Doug O'Neill said. "So I totally respect that. I'm just hoping anyone who bets Bodemeister is regretting it Saturday night."
O'Neill might be regretting some comments made Wednesday about strategy if Bodemeister wins the second jewel of the Triple Crown, as he voiced confidence that I'll Have Another won't be struggling to catch up.
"As long as we continue to train like our horse is training, we won't be that far off Bodemeister. If anything, Bodemeister might be behind us early," O'Neill said. "I can see him chasing us, I really could."
Irwin said that anyone who reveals his plans before a race "is jerking your chain," but Baffert sure hopes O'Neill follows through with that idea.
"I wish he would have chased me in the Derby. He wouldn't have lasted," Baffert said. "You know what? When the gate comes open, nobody knows really what they're going to do. You just don't know if the horse is going to come back and have a big race."
By the odds, the Preakness looks like a two-horse race between Bodemeister and I'll Have Another, as Went the Day Well and Creative Cause are the next closest at 6-1. Every other horse is at least 12-1.
So it makes sense that there's plenty of confidence and bravado coming from both camps. But it looks like I'll Have Another's draw to the outside could be beneficial in at least keeping pace with Bodemeister for what should be an entertaining duel Saturday evening at Pimlico.
"I like the fact that if Bodemeister is absolutely flying, we don't have to use our horse to track him. It's kind of more in Bodemeister's hands, it's in [jockey] Mike Smith's hands to kind of set the pace," O'Neill said. "If for whatever reason if he breaks slow or decides not to go, we'll take a lead and take it from there."
And while Bodemeister might have the post advantage, Bodemeister could follow Baffert's previous pattern when capturing the Preakness.
"I've won it with the best horse. That's why I've won it," he said. "That's the best advantage you can have."
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