"It's difficult to know how any horse is going to take to running so long," assistant trainer Jack Sisterson said. "All you can go on is how he's run so far, and we certainly like what he's shown as far as stamina."
Sisterson feels I'll Have Another has taken to the track well and that his energy is high because he had a long layoff between races earlier this year. But sprinting full-bore through the dirt is drastically different from galloping, and three races in five weeks — all over a mile — is a pace a trainer would rarely demand under any other circumstance.
Is it time for Union Rags to make a run?
Trainer Michael Matz is generally stoic. But he still seethes when the subject of Union Rags' past two races is brought up (which, of course, happens often). The promising colt, second in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile and an early favorite to win the Kentucky Derby, never found a way to challenge in the Florida Derby or at Churchill Downs. Matz had been frustrated with jockey Julien Leparoux, who lost the mount to John Velazquez.
"I just don't think this horse had the chance to show his true ability his last two races," Matz said during a conference call with reporters. "He never had a chance to run. I didn't think after the Florida Derby that it could happen again. Obviously it was worse."
Matz felt Union Rags was good enough to win the Triple Crown. Having already raced and won on the Belmont track they call "Big Sandy" — by more than five lengths in the Grade I Champagne Stakes last year — Union Rags now at least has the chance to prevent a Triple Crown.
Will "old school" work?
Trainer Dale Romans had been inclined to take Dullahan, the third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, to the Preakness. But the colt's ownership group persuaded him to wait. And with extra rest, Romans has tweaked his training to try to adjust to the rigors of a longer race. Dullahan breezed a mile May 26 and had long gallops this past week.
"The good thing with skipping the Preakness is that you do more when you train," Romans said. "When you go back in two weeks and back in three weeks, it limits you to be ready for the mile and a half. We've tried doing some old-school stuff, like longer, slower gallops and longer works. We'll see if it pays off."
Triple Crown winnersYearNameJockeyTrainer1919Sir BartonJohn LoftusH. G. Bedwell1930Gallant FoxEarl SandeJames Fitzsimmons1935OmahaWilliam SaundersJames Fitzsimmons1937War AdmiralCharley KurtsingerGeorge Conway1941WhirlawayEddie ArcaroBen A. Jones1943Count FleetJohn LongdenDon Cameron1946Assault WarrenMehrtensMax Hirsch1948CitationEddie ArcaroBen A. Jones1973SecretariatRon TurcotteLucien Laurin1977Seattle SlewJean CruguetWilliam Turner Jr.1978AffirmedSteve CauthenLazaro S. Barrera
Triple Crown near-misses
Derby/Preakness doublesYearHorseBelmont finish1932Burgoo King(Did not start)1936Bold Venture(Did not start)1944Pensive2nd (Bounding Home)1958Tim Tam2nd (Cavan)1961Carry Back7th (Sherluck)1964Northern Dancer3rd (Quadrangle)1966Kauai King4th (Amberoid)1968x-Forward Pass2nd (Stage Door Johnny)1969Majestic Prince2nd (Arts and Letters)1971Canonero II4th (Pass Catcher)1979Spectacular Bid3rd (Coastal)1981Pleasant Colony3rd (Summing)1987Alysheba4th (Bet Twice)1989Sunday Silence2nd (Easy Goer)1997Silver Charm2nd (Touch Gold)1998Real Quiet2nd (Victory Gallop)1999Charismatic3rd (Lemon Drop Kid)2002War Emblem8th (Sarava)2003Funny Cide3rd (Empire Maker)2004Smarty Jones2nd (Birdstone)2008Big BrownDNF (Da'Tara)x-won on DQ