I'll Have Another is a big favorite to win the Triple Crown


I'll Have Another is a big favorite to win the Triple Crown

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- I'll Have Another went into lockdown on Wednesday, moving into a secured barn shortly after the colt was made the early 4-5 favorite to win the Belmont Stakes in his quest to become the 12th Triple Crown champion and first in 34 years. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner was the last of the 12 Belmont horses to arrive at the detention barn, showing up four minutes past the noon check-in deadline. The chestnut colt calmly walked a few hundred yards down a dirt path from where he had been stabled since arriving May 20 and stepped into the barn with a horde of media tracking his every move. "No complaints, no hurdles," trainer Doug O'Neill said. "He's being good." Whether he's good enough to end the 34-year drought of Triple Crown winners will be decided Saturday, when I'll Have Another breaks from the No. 11 post under Mario Gutierrez. He'll have to contend with 11 rivals. "We're going to see how the pace sets up," O'Neill said. "If they're crawling, hopefully we'll be leading the crawl and if they're flying, hopefully we'll be sitting in behind the horses flying." Just two Belmont winners have come out of the No. 11 post since 1905. The last was Sarava, a 70-1 shot who ended War Emblem's Triple Crown bid in 2002. I'll Have Another bucked history in the Derby as the first horse to win from the 19th post. Dullahan was the 5-1 second choice and drew post No. 5. The colt finished third in the Kentucky Derby and sat out the Preakness. "Five is as good as any," trainer Dale Romans said. "It doesn't matter going a mile and a half with my horse. I didn't want to be down on the rail or way outside." Union Rags arrived from his training base in Maryland shortly after 11 a.m. and settled into the security barn, which will be monitored around the clock leading up to the Belmont. Anyone interacting with the horses, including trainers, veterinarians, exercise riders and owners, will have to be logged in and out. The barn was set up as part of last-minute changes to ensure a fair running of the race. Union Rags was the third betting choice at 6-1 and will break from post No. 3 under new jockey John Velazquez. The colt got bumped at the start by Dullahan in the Derby and rallied from 17th to finish seventh. He also skipped the Preakness to prepare for the 1 1-2-mile Belmont. "If I had my choice I would have picked a little further out," trainer Michael Matz said. "I think the horse has enough speed to be in a decent position." Paynter is the fourth betting choice at 8-1 and drew the No. 9 post for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. I'll Have Another chased down Bodemeister in the closing strides of both the Derby and Preakness. But Baffert sent him back to the West Coast and called in a fresh Paynter to challenge the favorite. "I always thought Bodemeister is a very nice colt," said Ahmed Zayat, who owns both Bodemeister and Paynter. "Bob, from day one, thought Paynter was the better horse." I'll Have Another went for his usual gallop earlier Wednesday morning, and O'Neill was pleased. "He's continued to gallop good, his energy's been good, his appetite's been strong, and he's handled this whole journey as good as you could possibly ask a horse," he said. "He hasn't lost a bit of his flesh at all, his coat continues to shine and look great, so we couldn't ask for him to be coming in to this any better." D. Wayne Lukas was back at the track a day after being kicked in the forehead by one of his horses. The 76-year-old Hall of Fame trainer sported an ugly gash that had been stitched up. He will saddle Optimizer in a race he's won four times, but not since 2000. "There's better horses in the race but the times that I have won it, there were better horses in the race then, too," he said. Trainer Ken McPeek has two 30-1 shots in Atigun and Unstoppable U. "These horses admittedly are not of the class level of I'll Have Another, Dullahan, Union Rags," he said. "They haven't proven it at that level. So I really kind of need to run both of them to have a real shot." In 2002, his horse Sarava spoiled War Emblem's Triple Crown, winning at 70-1 odds. "Nobody threw any stones at me on the way out," McPeek said. Nineteen horses have been tripped up in their Triple tries, including 11 since Affirmed was the last to win in 1978. ------ The field, from the rail out: Street Life (Jose Lezcano, 12-1); Unstoppable U (Junior Alvarado, 30-1); Union Rags (John Velazquez, 6-1); Atigun (Julien Leparoux, 30-1); Dullahan (Javier Castellano, 5-1); Ravelo's Boy (Alex Solis, 50-1); Five Sixteen (Rosie Napravnik, 50-1); Guyana Star Dweej (Kent Desormeaux, 50-1); Paynter (Mike Smith, 8-1); Optimizer (Corey Nakatani, 20-1); I'll Have Another (Mario Gutierrez, 4-5); My Adonis (Ramon Dominguez, 20-1).

Quick Links

The 5 must-see moments from Wizards' loss to Spurs

The 5 must-see moments from Wizards' loss to Spurs

Here are the five moments from Friday night's Wizards loss to the San Antonio Spurs that are worth revisiting...

1. Bradley Beal fell down, but got right back up to put in a monster dunk in the first half:

2. The Wizards had two points taken off the scoreboard after a review at the end of the third quarter. The play that was reversed happened with 3:45 left in the third:

3. Beal sank an and-1 and was crazy fired up after it went in:

4. Wall found Beal for a huge three-pointer with just under a minute left to play:

5. Wall drained a tough layup with 11.2 seconds left to tie the game at 105-105. Unfortunately for the Wizards, Kawhi Leonard would answer right back on the next play:

For more on the Wizards' loss, read J. Michael's recap.

[RELATED: No timetable for Ian Mahinmi return]

Quick Links

Takeaways from Wizards' 17th consecutive road loss at Spurs

Takeaways from Wizards' 17th consecutive road loss at Spurs

The Wizards whiffed on a chance to win at the Oklahoma City Thunder for the first time in their last game. They also came close to beating the San Antonio Spurs for the first time on their home floor since 1999 on Friday night, but could not seal it and are now 0-2 on this three-game road trip. 

The Wizards led by 11 points in the first half, lost it by the end of the third quarter but came back to cut the deficit to 96-95. The Wizards fell in overtime to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, a game they had in hand in regulation. 

The Spurs appeared headed to an easy finish with a 94-85 lead until a 10-2 run put the Wizards one point back with 3:35 left and but they weren't able to close it out. They did tie the score at 100 in the final 80 seconds.

Marcin Gortat (21 points, 18 rebounds) had his best game of the season followed by John Wall (17 points, 15 assists) and Bradley Beal (23 points). Otto Porter (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Markieff Morris (12 points) rounded out the starters in double figures. 

The Spurs were led by Kawhi Leonard (23 points), LaMarcus Aldridge (19 points) and Pau Gasol (19 points, 10 rebounds).

--The Wizards went at Gasol, who at his advanced age can be a step slow. They also wisely attacked the feet of David Lee when he showed on pick-and-rolls to help. The result was Gortat’s double-double by halftime and the Wizards having a 50-30 edge in the paint.

--Tony Parker (rest) was 8 of 13 and key in the Spurs’ win in the first meeting. Nicola Laprovittola provided a much easier matchup. When Wall got into the paint, a big had to provide help and he dropped the ball off to Gortat for easy finishes or he’d be in position to clean up missed shots off the help.

--Ginobili came off the bench and sparked the Spurs with a pair of key plays in the third. A saved ball going out of bounds by Aldridge was snatched by Ginobili who kept it from being a backcourt violation and led to a basket. Then Ginobili made Wall pay for gambling with a drive and layup to tie the score at 71 at 4:09.

-- Gortat’s individual defense had been a strength for him the last two games. In this one, he made an impact with his help by rotating and forcing misses at the rim to cover for the backcourt. Gortat had two blocks.

-- Jason Smith put forth his best game of the season on both ends. His reverse layup in traffic to keep the Wizards ahead by four late in the third, but he knocked down open shots and was able to match up well with Lee.

[RELATED: Difficult to predict when Ian Mahinmi returns to Wizards from latest injury]