Haskin's Belmont Report: 'Another' Gallop? Not Quite

So, I’ll Have Another will gallop up to the Belmont Stakes. Well, that’s what we’ve been told. Officially, that is correct, as there will be nothing on the worktab under the name I’ll Have Another.

But if you’re concerned that the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner will be compromised by not having a work, unlike the past three Triple Crown winners, who had long works in between the Preakness and Belmont, you can rest easy. We were one of those concerned at first, mainly because we felt the lack of a work could have the colt a bit too fresh going a mile and half, where a horse cannot afford to be too keen early, even a little. The Belmont is all about relaxing early and settling into a good rhythm.

So, why would the lack of a workout not be a concern in the case of I’ll Have Another? Because he has indeed been working. We all know by now that I’ll Have Another is a galloping machine, storming around the track every at a wicked pace. He did it at Churchill Downs, he did it at Pimlico, and he’s doing it at Belmont.

We came across a video of Thursday’s gallop on YouTube, at least part of it, from the sixteenth pole to the beginning of the backstretch, where I’ll Have Another began to pull up. What we saw was no gallop. Passing the finish line, this horse was working, regardless of how you want to officially classify it. Although it was on a computer screen, several of the poles were clearly visible, so we thought we’d put a watch on it just for the heck of it.

The finish line as a starting point was easy to catch. The seven-eighths pole looked pretty clear, but not being there you couldn’t be sure of the angle. It was, however, clear enough that the difference would be no more than a fifth or two-fifths of a second, tops.

The first time, as we watched I’ll Have Another ease slightly toward the rail as if in work mode and motor past the finish line, we were amazed to catch him from the finish line to the seven-eighths pole in :11 4/5. OK, no way, so we tried it again -- :11 4/5. The next time, we made an angle adjustment and waited a hair longer -- :12 flat. A few more times – all :12 flat. One more angle adjustment, waiting even longer -- :12 1/5. After several more attempts, we just accepted that one of these times was correct. Regardless of which one, you don’t see splits of :11 4/5 or :12 or :12 1/5 going an eighth past the wire in a gallop. You rarely see it in a work.

We continued to time the “gallop” out all the way around the big sweeping turn. By now, I’ll Have Another was indeed galloping out and farther off the rail, looking as if he had just worked, and still went three-eighths past the wire in :39 3/5. A two-minute lick, basically the fastest type of gallop you’ll see, is a series of :15-second eighths, which will give you a mile gallop in two minutes. During a two-minute lick, a horse will go three-eighths in :45, not :39 3/5. That’s a difference of 27 lengths.

Was this gallop exceptionally fast for I’ll Have Another or the norm? It just so happened that on a TVG round table discussion that same night, they showed I’ll Have Another galloping in the mud on May 27. This time it was from the eighth pole to the seven-eighths pole, and shot from farther away, which made the angle much more defined. Fortunately, we had recorded it on DVR it and were able to play it back several times. Each time, we got the same results. I’ll Have Another, again down on the inside, went from the eighth pole to the wire in :13 flat and then from the wire to the seven-eighths pole in :12 1/5, which was the slower of the splits we got in Thursday’s gallop, leading us to believe that on a fast track, our original :11 4/5 might have been correct.

Of course, he didn’t look as if he was going that fast, but exceptional horses often look as if they’re going slower than they actually are. And he has such a smooth, efficient stride it can be deceiving.

In this particular May 27 “gallop,” he came through the stretch a quarter in :25 1/5. Once again, these are work splits, and not even close to a typical gallop. And the emphasis seems to be on getting the colt to run “through” the wire, as they say.

So, what is the point of all this? The point is, we believe we are dealing with an extraordinary horse who would prove to be a worthy Triple Crown winner. We’re not making any predictions yet, but let’s just say, with his pedigree, power, speed, class, courage under fire, and ability to rate, we could be looking at something special. Whether that equates to a Belmont victory, who knows?

If I’ll Have Another should win the Belmont, there is no way of knowing for sure just how much these daily gallops will have contributed to the victory, but we feel the subject is worth mentioning to show one more example of why this colt is different and stands out from other horses.

Seattle Slew and Affirmed both solidified their greatness with championship campaigns at 4, while Secretariat won four stakes later on as a 3-year-old. So, if I’ll Have Another is fortunate enough to sweep the Triple Crown, let’s give him the opportunity to earn his place among the greats before making any comparisons and judgments based only on what he’s accomplished through early June of his 3-year-old campaign.

There is one thing he has going for him in addition to the aforementioned attributes. He has proven there is nothing ordinary about him.

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