Historic Win Comes Downs to the Final Furlong
The 138th Kentucky Derby has come and gone but in dramatic fashion the race concluded with a burst of excitement down the stretch. Stalking close and slowly gaining ground, it was a beautiful horse with a famous name that drove it home and proved he was the best horse of the day. I’ll Have Another now stands as the first Santa Anita Derby winner that accepted the bed of derby roses since Sunday Silence in 1989. Attacking the front-runners from Post Position 19, I’ll Have Another becomes the first winner from that position in 138 running’s of the Kentucky Derby.
A record crowd of 165,307 was on hand at Churchill Downs for the 2012 Kentucky Derby, a race that included many other firsts for the winning connections. Mario Gutierrez, 25, made the world of his Kentucky Derby debut. He began his thoroughbred racing career at Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver where he quickly became the meets leading rider. From there he was off to Southern California and Santa Anita where he got the attention of I’ll Have Another owner Paul Reddam. A once unknown and mysterious jockey is now a Kentucky Derby winner that scored in his first ever mount. Finally, Mario Gutierrez, a native of Mexico, capped off Cinco de Mayo with a very fitting nod to his country’s heritage and pride.
I’ll Have Another, son of Flower Alley and Arch’s Gal Edith are led by two major figures on the California Racing Circuits. Successful on many different levels of thoroughbred racing, 2012 now advances them even further with their very first Kentucky Derby win. Trainer Doug O’Neil and Owner Paul Reddam are humble champions and deserve every bit of the victory. So for the 2nd consecutive year the Derby Gods had the stars aligned for the eventual winner and his entire team, all of which walked away with their first derby win.
Getting there however was no easy task. Breaking from post 19, Gutierrez made an aggressive move that put him right where he felt his horse needed to be. Breaking from the far outside is always a Kentucky Derby challenge but in a field of 20 horses there are always a few that get a clean break. I’ll Have Another got away nicely and was in put into a perfect stalking position going into the first turn, leading the 2nd wave of horses behind the 5 that moved straight to the front.
The predictions on the likely frontrunners were spot on as Bodemeister, Trinniberg and Hansen were racing 1-2-3 into and out of the first turn. The 2nd quarter-mile slowed down just a tick but the opening fractions of 22.32 and 45.39 kept the pace hot. The pace was still sizzling through 6F – 1:09.80 which likely caused 4 out of the 5 in front to begin tiring. Daddy Long Legs followed by Gemologist were the first to give way before Trinniberg and Hansen also failed to hold on. The increase in horses weakening left the stalkers in prime position to close but they would still have to get by the pace setter that was refusing to give.
Bodemeister with Mike Smith aboard were sticking with the plan. Guaranteed to be following the instructions of Trainer Bob Baffert, Bodemeister was out to steal the Kentucky Derby from the front. By the time he had rounded the far turn and made his way to the stretch, the race was set up almost identical to the Arkansas Derby where Bodemeister wired the field and drew away in the closing stages. But the Kentucky Derby is a longer race and there is always a bid to unseat the leader that’s holding on for dear life in the front.
It’s often said that a race is won in the stretch. However, that is only partially true for I’ll Have Another. Tracking down Bodemeister, a horse that deserves all of the attention he received before the derby, was a brilliant effort. But in the grand scheme of things you had to be close enough to the front to be in position to take down the leader. Of the horses that finished 3rd, 4th and 5th (Dullahan, Went the Day Well and Creative Cause) all three were racing higher than 10th place at the ¾ mark. It’s been said in the past that closing from far back is a dangerous strategy in the Kentucky Derby and unfortunately for all three of these horses that proved to be in true in 2012.
As for I’ll Have Another his trip over the 1 ¼ mile distance was about as clean and well executed as his connections could have asked. With a name like this, you can expect his fan base to keep growing all the way to Baltimore. It’s been confirmed by Doug O’Neil that the show will go on and the pursuit for the Triple Crown is full speed ahead. Congratulations to I’ll Have Another and your connections, it was great to see them score their firsts. Best of Luck in the chase for rewriting history as you embark on standing next to Affirmed, our last Triple Crown winner in 1978.
As for myself, you can expect for me to remain in the corner of I’ll Have Another for the Preakness Stakes. Following the impressive win in the 138th Kentucky Derby – @thederbypost: Love when the #KyDerby winner says it all after winning with him……….yes sir, I’ll Have Another. Outside of announcing a winning ticket that statement can be interpreted a few different ways on Derby Day. But for now, since Derby Day 138 has come and gone, I’ll Have Another stands for our support for another win in the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown. Cheers!
Written by: Little Brink