The result of the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) brought to mind the biblical prophecy, “So the last shall be first, and the first last.” Liaison , already a grade I winner, was the first choice of the betting public, but was already fading from the fray when he clipped heels with a rival and unseated his rider. Meanwhile, I'll Have Another , who was friendless in the market, started as the field’s outsider at odds of 43-1, but after stalking the early fractions he drove clear for an impressive 2 3/4-length triumph.
A look at his form makes it slightly surprising that I’ll Have Another was underestimated in the Robert B. Lewis, and a glance at his pedigree marks him as a colt who could be expected to improve with time and distance. A winner over 5 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park on his debut at 2, I’ll Have Another finished a good second to the highly-rated Creative Cause after dueling through the early fractions in the Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) next out.
On his only other start prior to the Robert B. Lewis, I’ll Have Another finished a distant sixth in the Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes (gr. I), an effort that probably can be excused by a failure to handle the sloppy conditions prevailing that day.
I’ll Have Another—who cost just $11,000 as a Keeneland September yearling and $35,000 at the OBS Spring Sale of 2-year-olds in training sale—is by Flower Alley out of a mare by Arch, both being horses who reached their peak over a distance of ground late in their three-year-old career.
Flower Alley—a member of the third crop sired by Distorted Humor —finished third in his only start at 2, but after breaking his maiden at Gulfstream Park, entered the 2005 classic picture with a win in the Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II). Second to Afleet Alex in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II), Flower Alley was blocked at a crucial stage in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and wound up ninth to Giacomo. Given a break, he returned to take second to Roman Ruler in the Dwyer Stakes (gr. II), but then stamped himself among the leaders of his division with wins in the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) and Travers Stakes (gr. I), in which he accounted for Bellamy Road and Roman Ruler. Fourth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) after being taken on by his own pacemaker in the early stages, Flower Alley rebounded to finish second, beaten just a length by the two-years-older Horse of the Year Saint Liam, in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Powered by Dodge (gr. I). Flower Alley looked set for a big 4-year-old season when he took the Salvator Mile Stakes (gr. III) by 3¼ lengths first time out. However, he never recaptured that form, and failed to hit the board in his other three starts that year.
Retired to stand at Three Chimneys Farm, Flower Alley was represented his first crop of 3-year-olds in 2011. They included the Central Bank Ashland Stakes (gr. I) victress Lilacs and Lace and Bouquet Booth, victorious in the Delta Downs Princess Stakes (gr. III).
I’ll Have Another’s broodmare sire, Arch, did win his lone start at 2, but scored his two stakes wins in the Super Derby (gr. I) and Fayette Stakes (gr. II) in the fall of his 3-year-old season. In addition to siring such as champions Blame , Arravale, Les Arcs, and Overarching, Arch is making a promising start as a broodmare sire, and his daughters already have produced 10 stakes winners, including juvenile champion Uncle Mo and French group scorer Homebound. Arch’s Gal Edith, dam of I’ll Have Another, never had the opportunity to run over a distance of ground—but she did win her only start, which came in a six-furlong maiden at Belmont Park at age 3. Both her other two starters have won, and they include the 5-year-old Thunder Gulch gelding Those Wer the Days, a winner of the last four of his five starts to date.
The second dam of I’ll Have Another, Force Five Gal, is a daughter of Pleasant Tap. Another runner who improved with age and distance, Pleasant Tap earned a title as champion older male as a 5-year-old after annexing the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Suburban Handicap (both gr. I), both at 10 furlongs. Force Five Gal was stakes-placed when second in the Border Cup at Fort Erie, and she is half sister to three stakes-placed horses, including the Bewitch Stakes (gr. IIIT) runner-up Noble Cause. However, she’s also closely related to a much better runner in the Californian Stakes (gr. I) and Young America Stakes (gr. II) victor Roanoke, who was by Pleasant Tap’s sire, Pleasant Colony, and was a half brother to Force Five Gal’s dam, the Miss Grillo Stakes (gr. IIIT) third Last Cause (a daughter of Nijinsky II’s long-winded son Caucasus).
The fourth dam, Last Bird, is by one of the immortals of European racing, Sea Bird II, out of the crack 2-year-old Patelin, successful in the the Selima, Schuylerville, and Alcibiades stakes. This is also the immediate family of champion juvenile filly Pleasant Stage (by Pleasant Colony), and grade one winners Into Mischief, A Phenomenon, Seattle Meteor, Marsh Side, Changeintheweather, and Pillaster.
I’ll Have Another is rated A by TrueNicks, and is a product of the Distorted Humor/Roberto cross that has produced five stakes winners from 50 starters. We’ve already noted that both the sire and broodmare sire of I’ll Have Another were grade I winners at 10 furlongs, and the sires of the the next three dams—Pleasant Tap, Caucusus and Sea-Bird II—scored their most prestigious triumphs at 10, 14, and 12 furlongs. So, if I’ll Have Another should make it to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, he might be tested for class, but almost certainly will not be found wanting in stamina.