I'll Have Another visited the paddock at New York's Belmont Park the morning of June 3, standing briefly in the saddling enclosure and walking several times around the paddock before heading to the track for his customary energetic morning gallop. The 3-year-old son of Flower Alley will be trying to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner when he runs in the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) following victories in the Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
“The way he went today, that will be the last time he’ll see the paddock (before the race),” said trainer Doug O’Neill. “He’s good to go.”
After passing through the grandstand tunnel from the paddock to the main track, the handsome chestnut colt was warmly greeted by the “Breakfast at Belmont” fans who lined up along the rail to watch him gallop past with exercise rider Jonny Gonzalez.
“It’s so cool to see the people in the paddock and in the grandstand,” said O’Neill, who trains I’ll Have Another for J. Paul Reddam. “You can start feeling the excitement that the Belmont’s coming. It’s a huge credit to the Belmont people to set aside the special time, kind of closing off these 15 minutes and letting people come out and get a chance to see some of the runners. It’s been fun.”
O’Neill, who watched I’ll Have Another’s gallop from the box seats in the grandstand, was also able to see several other Belmont contenders put in their final breezes for the “Test of the Champion.”
“I didn’t get a chance to really dissect the horses that worked, but when the horses came by me, I thought that Dullahan looked great, stretching out,” said O’Neill, adding he thought Paynter and trainer Ken McPeek’s duo of Atigun and Unstoppable U looked good as well.
Informed that Dullahan’s trainer, Dale Romans, thought he had the horse to beat in the race, O’Neill said: “I respect (Dale) a ton, so if he says that, it’s scary. As confident as he is in his horse, I’m equally confident in my horse. I think we’re in really good shape.”
Coming through the stretch, I’ll Have Another picked up the pace considerably and galloped out with good energy, which O’Neill was delighted to see.
“He’s just a special horse,” he said. “Good horses do things that are special very easily. It’s so humbling to be around a horse like him. He’s such a brilliant horse. We wouldn’t be here without I’ll Have Another’s brilliance.”