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.


Leave a Comment:

Rusty Weisner


This is a great post.  Very useful.  You've really been a trustworthy source when it comes to the work tabs and habits of all the TC contenders, and specifically regarding IHA, who you were very high on going into the Derby.  Another good example was CC: when there were doubts about his foot before the Derby you shrugged them off, correctly, it now seems.  You also insisted that workouts at CD are an important indicator -- had I taken you more seriously I could have thrown Gemologist and TCI off my Derby tickets.

I kind of like it, by the way, that you don't make picks.  We've got enough pickers (I'll be offering mine soon enough).  This kind of attentive viewing you offer is worth more, and I'm talking about money.

01 Jun 2012 9:42 AM
Rusty Weisner

Does anyone know when Gutierrez will ride his first race at Belmont?

01 Jun 2012 9:45 AM
Karen in Indiana

YES!! I love this horse and I love how he's been handled. If I can indulge in a 'what if' - what if Big Brown had been in this barn? I think we could have seen something legendary. I hope we do June 9th.

01 Jun 2012 9:57 AM

hope mario can sense a false pace if one develops then goes for it. hope to see a win by i"ll have another with a ! mark after it.

01 Jun 2012 10:10 AM
Rusty Weisner

...and now picks, pretty obvious ones.

I was disappointed Alpha won't run because I thought his odds would be very good and I would have thought he had a slim chance to actually win.  As it is, I only think three horses can possibly win:  IHA, Dullahan and Paynter.  I was going to say two, but I'm willing to take a stab at Paynter, despite the lack of seasoning, given his likely odds, particularly as compared to UR's.  The fact that he was in the second tier, finishing strongly for fourth, in the SA Derby, is determinative.  Meanwhile, his allowance race, a nice 1 1/16 on the lead, served as a good long work, and he fired a bullet right after that.  I will play trifectas with this trio, mostly with IHA on top, but I think the exacta will be a better bet -- I don't see any of the rest of this weak field, other than possibly UR, who is a big question mark regarding pedigree, cracking the top three, much less the top two (and Matz has been throwing off bad vibes ever since the Derby).  So my only angles for making money are picking all three in multi-race bets as a hedge against IHA and, in the Belmont itself, betting for Paynter to beat UR for the second or third spots.  

JayJay:  you were considering a couple underneath that I'll toss.  Guyana stopped short in his workout and his trainer offered some mumbo-jumbo about him being "lazy" in workouts.  Street Life is appealing visually, and apparently is one of the only ones with the pedigree for this, but I've developed a prejudice against this sort of horse the past few years, one that Dialed In last year really cemented.  Not to mention the fact that Larry Jones doesn't consider Mark Valeski, who won the Peter Pan, to be a legitimate contender here.  And why bet Optimizer anywhere better than fourth when Dullahan is so well-meant here?  The horse seems misused; let him try to light up the trifecta at 30-1, I'll pass (since with this bunch everyone will be hitting ALL in the super anyway, what's the value there?).

A last note:  Rajiv Maragh complained of a track bias when he lost to Shackleford.  If the track remains kind or fair to speed, that is good for IHA.

01 Jun 2012 10:16 AM
Rusty Weisner

Compare IHA's training to Funny Cide's.  Funny Cide was already the underdog versus Empire Maker because of questionable pedigree, but being rank didn't help.  He had a :57 workout right before the Belmont and was out of a control in the race itself.  

I'm also more confident about IHA than about Smarty Jones, where there was no consensus about his pedigree.  I'm one of probably a minority who don't believe the ride cost him the TC; Birdstone was a credentialed contender with a Belmont pedigree.  

IHA isn't going to drag his jockey  to a premature lead like Smarty Jones or Funny Cide did, and his pedigree isn't being questioned.  It's almost a shame to be betting anything against him, but that extra quarter mile is too much of a great, unknown, sandy desert.  

01 Jun 2012 10:53 AM

You are quite right, Mr. Haskin... that was no "ordinary" gallop. This horse is something pretty special.  

01 Jun 2012 11:02 AM

To Karen in Indiana:

Big Brown had a split front hoof and a loose shoe on a rear foot.

That's why he ran so slow, and his jockey just let him coast in at the end.

Two articles that discuss these issues can be found on ESPN Horse Racing site.

01 Jun 2012 11:03 AM
Karen in Indiana

Rusty Weisner, I wouldn't count Union Rags out because of his pedigree. He is a very athletically fit horse and if you look at his body shape, he's built like a horse that can stay. Most sprinters are built more like a cheetah - hind end higher than the shoulder. UR is pretty balanced.

01 Jun 2012 11:08 AM

Steve - for years and years and years, you've been my favorite racetrack writer, and it's because of pieces like this. You add so much to my enjoyment of this sport!

01 Jun 2012 11:12 AM
Karen in Texas

Thanks for the video, Steve. IHA gallops like a little red train and is being handled beautifully!

Rusty W.----I read on Brisnet that Gutierrez will be in NY on Monday and "at the track" on Tuesday. It didn't say when his first race would be, but that other trainers have offered him mounts already. They hope to have him ride at least 10 mounts at the track before the Belmont.

01 Jun 2012 11:45 AM

The picture of IHA on the site with the article about a loose horse demonstrates his extreme reach and drive when he gallops. His gait is so efficient and he drives straight off his hocks with such strength that it is a thing of beauty to behold. He is indeed special. I can't wait for the Belmont. Thank you Steve for your superb reporting. You are the highlight of my day!

01 Jun 2012 11:49 AM
an ole railbird

steve ole boy, you did it again. this form of presenting work outs to the public is TOPS, to say the least. now us ole shade tree hands of the past,can get a view of what is really happening. as good a wtiter as you are,you are noone else, can decscribe a horses works as well as what us ole racetrackers can see in a work. this computer that i have hated for years has become the object of my effections. because its almost as good as being there. keep up the good work. i seldom agree with you . but i read & reread all of your blogs& really feel enlightened.

01 Jun 2012 12:11 PM


Thanks for all the information!  I'm more excited about this Belmont than I have been in a very long time.  I knew IHA was going to win the Preakness and when he crossed the finish line, I knew he would sweep all three.  I just feel it in my bones.  It's time.

Racing needs this, racing fans need this and anyone who has followed this sport since the days of Secretariat and before really need this.  

I was fortunate enough to be able to visit all three of those Triple Crown winners from the '70's and it was awe inspiring being in the presence of greatness.  I think we're in for a great Belmont and I am so excited about it.  It's a great feeling.

01 Jun 2012 12:15 PM
Rusty Weisner

Anyone here have an authoritative opinion on Big Brown's Belmont?  Hoof? Drugs? Drug withdrawal? 93 degrees?

Is that the other "unknown" I have to consider in deciding how to approach IHA?  Is there precedence for these "specific safeguards directed at O'Neill"?

01 Jun 2012 12:31 PM
The Deacon

Since this is the 1st possible Triple Crown winner in 34 years a lot will be said about the training methods used for IHA. We are breaking new ground here.

Reading blog on Citation and many others, horses back in the day ran much more then horses do today.

I believe IHA can do this. All my hopes are with him. Our industry needs this......

01 Jun 2012 12:35 PM

Thanks again, Steve, for your insight. I believe that O'Neill is actually training for I'll Have Another, rather than because of the way things usually are done. If the training is suited to the horse, it's always an advantage. Best of luck to IHA.

01 Jun 2012 12:55 PM
an ole railbird

steve, i have a heart warming story, that is true,& was born in some very hard times. & it really puts emphasis on the tenasity of the horseman of the 50s era. i would like to send it to you& have you share with your reading public.  how would i send it to you? if you are interested contact me. its a story thru a horse crazy, 11yr old kid in west texas, veiwing the connections of kw winner swaps. let me know something.

01 Jun 2012 1:12 PM

CC is finally where he might improve as a 3yo from a 2yo on the turf.IHA looks unbeatable but how many colts that won the 1st two legs looked unbeatable.I think the way to beat him is to set an artificial pace either too fast early or too slow to make him move before he wants to.

01 Jun 2012 1:45 PM

I am up to correction, but I am almost sure Zito did not work Da'Tara from his runner-up finish on the Preakness under card to win he won the Belmont a few years ago.

I might question a trainer why Optimizer is in the Belmont rather than a non-winner of 2 but wouldn't question a trainer sending a horse to the Belmont that hadn't lost this year with 3 Grade 1's in the bag already.

Steve, if I am wrong about Da'Tara only being galloped to the Belmont win, I don't mind being told so---but I am pretty sure I am right and would bet on it.

01 Jun 2012 1:53 PM

I will take one exception to the article, which is that if he wins the Belmont, IHA will cement his greatness simply for doing something that only 11 other horses have done and none in 34 years. Many great horses have come before him and attempted it and failed.

Now, he might not rank as high as the big three from the 70s, who achieved greatness beyond the Triple Crown, but IHA should be given his full due if he wins.

01 Jun 2012 1:55 PM

10 days before Belmont 1/2 of a gallop in the TC finally appears on the Blood Horse.  Excellent!

01 Jun 2012 1:58 PM
Janis from Winnipeg

Re Big Brown's Belmont, it was the shoe, the nail, the humidity, withdrawal from drugs, the 93 degrees and, maybe most importantly, the bizarre notion that a horse running in that temperature and humidity wouldn't need vitamins, minerals or most importantly electrolytes.  That was Dutrow trying to prove his horse was so good he didn't need drugs, and he took him off everything including non-drug items that a horse needs for any heavy exercise, particularly in hot and humid weather.

01 Jun 2012 2:00 PM

To The Deacon, Yes they will be paying more attention to his training methods. This not breaking new ground, just plowing up old ground. This is returning to the "old time methods."

01 Jun 2012 2:17 PM

Okay, I have a question. I would like to know exactly how tall I'll Have Another actually is. I've seen many comments about "this little horse" but when he's alongside Lava man, or other horses, he looks to be of typical height, around 16 hands or a bit more. "Little" in the Thoroughbred is a subjective description of course, anything under 16 hands is considered "small," and if it's under 15:2 it's a downright pony...!! Jackson Bend and a few others are visibly smaller in their race videos... and of course Zenyatta, at a stated 17:2, towered over everything in her races, including both Breeders Cup Classics. I'd call those two the extremes in height---now where does IHA fit in???

Again, Steve, thank you so much for your unique perspective and insight. You are NEVER boring.

In my breed, the Arabian, my foundation mare was 13:3 and her half brother was 15:3... 14:2 to 15:2 is considered typical in that breed, with females usually a bit smaller than males. That mare produced several foals who grew up to be 14:3 to 15:1, and were used for everything from trail horse to cow work to endurance rides, as well as showing. Never had a problem with riders saying they were too small! My 14:2 stallion sired a colt who grew up to be 16:2 from a mare who stands 14:2 also.

My own personal experience is heavily on the Arabian, but having loved and watched and ridden and studied the Thoroughbred for many decades I still don't have the "personal info" on so many horses... and people for that matter.

For example your correspondent "ole Railbird" commented yesterday or the day before about Mesh Tenney having to be tough with Swaps (as Billy Turner was with Slew)... I grew up in Swaps' era, and though we "great Unwashed Public" knew that Ellsworth and Tenney were rough-cut customers, never babying their stock [with later tragic consequences, but that's for another time], Swaps himself was generally portrayed as having an amenable temperament or personality (bearing in mind that ANY male horse can be nippy or bitey, just as the females are more likely to kick). I know someone who spent a lot of backstretch time near the Ellsworth shedrow and his comment was that Swaps was like a big puppy dog. Then I read another article that stated (a respected Sports Illustrated writer's personal experience) that when he went to visit Swaps in his stall after the cast for his broken leg was removed, Ellsworth punched Swaps in the face and commented something to the effect that "now he'll behave." This is all very distressing to me... can't change history, but can someone please tell me what I should believe? Was Swaps just plain beaten into submission or was he a good tempered horse in the hands of bullies? Did anyone here know him during his stud career? Swaps remains one of my favorites of all time... his track accomplishments can't be denied... no matter what his connections were.

Well, I'll be rooting for IHA, and I suspect Dullahan won't be too far out of it at the finish, and Paynter may be nearby also. I very much like Union Rags, still, but question whether he can do the twelve furlongs. I just think IHA, from all descriptions, and especially yours, Steve, must be something really special and we are lucky to witness his campaign--- whether he wins or not he should go on to a good career for the rest of the year and be in demand as a stallion later...

I can't see Frankel coming over for the Breeders Cup to run in the Classic (he'd more likely do the Mile) but what a fantastic matchup that could be, Frankel and IHA---!!!

...and who, pray tell, would be the Trainer Of Record for IHA while Doug O'Neill is sitting out his suspension? Would he just get a rest and come back for the Breeders Cup --- passing up the Travers etc.?

Sorry to ramble so much but I won't be near a computer after today for several days. Had to cram it all in at once. Thanks for your patience.

01 Jun 2012 3:03 PM

We should all appreciate the fact that when IHA pulls this off, it will be on June 9----the precise anniversary of Secretariat's amazing Belmont win in 1973.

01 Jun 2012 3:09 PM
Sam Santschi


Thanks again.  I loved Alpha for the Derby so I'm kind of glad he's not running so I can save my money and sit back and watch IHA do his thing.  The best part of him is that it simply does not matter what the others do. He runs his race and does what is necessary.  I believe he will do it and you just wheel him on top and hope for something silly to happen underneath like UR and Dullahan not hitting the board.

01 Jun 2012 3:22 PM

The Deacon, I think you are 100% correct about the Old School training methods being used for I'll Have Another. And Dale Romans found this to be correct as well, with Shackleford as a 4 year old in the Met Mile. The Shack thrives on harder training. And to go back to Secretariat, would he have won the Belmont by 31 lengths if he were lightly trained?

Too little training for thoroughbreds is doing them a disservice. Pletcher admitted this when Awesome Maria lost her last race.  

What Team I'll Have Another has done which is really innovative is to spend as much time as possible at each track to acclimate the horse to the track and environment. Another great innovation is to use a retired winning thoroughbred (Lava Man) to help mentor IHA.

01 Jun 2012 3:53 PM
Betty S

Steve, great informative article, Karen in Texas, thanks for info on Mario riding at this track.  I am so excited about this race.  Video shows him galloping smooth as silk and very fast.

01 Jun 2012 4:06 PM

I think why I'll Have Another has been under rated is because he makes it all look easy and effortless. His stride is flawless. He looks like a chestnut Pegasus on the track. None of the other three year olds come close.

Thanks for the most inspired series of Triple Crown articles you have written this year. I think you had many four-legged Muses this year.

01 Jun 2012 4:15 PM

Thanks for this video Steve.  I still have a good feeling about this.  My father passed away yesterday morning and the funeral is this Monday.  I am still planning to go to the Belmont, he would not have wanted me to miss it.

Linda in Texas,

It is a cobalt blue satin David Meister designer dress, halter type style with nect beading.  Dr. Hansen would LOVE this color.  Well Hansen is running that day so it hopefully will bring him some luck because it is his color.

Glad IHA was safe from the mishaps at Belmont, he's got an angel on his shoulder or the racing gods are taking care of it.  I'm just reading stuff today, was making arrangements all day yesterday.

Take care all.  Be back sometime next week before the Belmont.

01 Jun 2012 4:36 PM

Thanks for exposing a trainer who allows his star horse to roll in the mornings as he obviously wishes. Some trainers have a bad habit of trying to make the horse "fit" his training "program" and usually that has terrible results. O'Neill is refreshing in this regard.

01 Jun 2012 5:54 PM
steve from st louis

Steve, it sounds like O'Neill is going "old school", imitating guys like Laz Barrera, Charlie Whittingham, Woody Stephens, Allen Jerkens, etc. in working his horse harder than trainers of today would normally. I mean the "Woodman" ran "Cielo" in the Met Mile on Monday, beating older horses in 1:33 and change and then on  that Saturday to win the Belmont. Sounds like O'Neill is getting to the bottom of IHA and taking the speed out of the colt to toughen him for 12 panels. I'm not comparing him to Laurin, who got Big Red to break :58 before the Derby but I hope O'Neill gets the horse to perform on Belmont Day. I'd like to see a California horse succeed at Big Sandy; maybe more would come in the Fall.

01 Jun 2012 6:46 PM
an ole railbird

in reply to the piece by longtimeracefan. i dont think i implyed anything about corpol punishment, any where or anytime in any of my blogs. i have a really good list of stories,that date back to swaps day. even the saddle breaking of swaps. because of working for 2 different people who were involved. when they were breaking him, there was no "whipping him into submisson". because they were not cowboy enough to. this was an untamed 2 yr old that had hands on him but a few times, & was a full blown stud. that had run the fence &squeled at mares all his life . al the while being feed by race standrds. he was a man eater, when they started him.they were weeks getting him to where they even snub him up to a pony horse. he would eat a pony up while trying to breed him. after they got a saddle on him, they used the wet saddle blanket method. to explain that method to you newbies. that when you ride him untillthe saddle are soaked. you rest him until the blankets start to dry. but never let them dry before they are back on said horses back. at on time they keept swaps on the race track for 91/2 hours. rotateing out 3 different riders. he was keept to a walk & a trot with water breaks for 91/2 hours. i was told that the next day he was a different horse. & yes after he was a broke & campained race horse he was a mostly gentle type stud. but would take advantage of a pilgrim.   i would like to add, that i have a life long with horses,but they are still livestock no amount of pampering is going to change that. if the horse industry is remain, the american public needs to lay the story books down & realize we cant afford to take better care of our animals than we do eldery& mentally impared.

01 Jun 2012 6:48 PM
Karen in Texas

longtimeracingfan----(I would go into withdrawal without a computer for several days!) It's just a guess, but I imagine O'Neill's assistant, Jack Sisterson, would manage IHA if and when O'Neill serves his suspension.

01 Jun 2012 6:52 PM

I was checking around on the internet and read that IHA is right at 16 hands or just a little under.

01 Jun 2012 7:43 PM
Steve Haskin

Alex'sBigFan, So sorry for your loss. I'm sure you'll be thinking of your father at Belmont.

01 Jun 2012 8:01 PM

To Alex's Big Fan:  I'm so sorry that your dad died, but what a terrific way to remember him. He'll be proud of you wearing your beautiful blue dress at the Belmont. If you get some thoughts about a horse or two that day, you know who it came from.

01 Jun 2012 8:29 PM
Linda in Texas

Alex'sBigFan - I am so sorry to hear about your daddy. I don't need to repeat this but i will. Daddy's and Daughters grow up strong together.

The stronger the daddy the stronger the daughter. I know your heart hurts.  

Heartfelt thoughts are with you and your family.


01 Jun 2012 9:04 PM

I really think that Big Brown was a Triple Crown horse. Other than his shoe problem, his race "was taken out of him" twice on Belmont day. First, he was moved to the detention barn ON RACE DAY. He was very upset.  TV  coverage showed him kicking the sides of his new stall in defiance. Second, he spooked and veered to the right (almost unseating Kent D) just after the race started. A man (starter?) was on the track out from the inner rail. Big Brown spooked when he saw this man in his path. He then ran rank to the first turn. The race was over for him.

01 Jun 2012 9:29 PM
Abigail Anderson

Loved this piece of "investigative journalism" Steve! It really kind of floored me. I've watched all the gallops that get posted but I'll Have Another is so smooth that I didn't realize he was moving that fast. I had a "WOW" moment reading this!!!!

Alex'sBigFans: My condolences at the loss of your father.

01 Jun 2012 9:58 PM

Steve, thank you so much for your wishes.  Terri, Linda, Karen, etc. thank you too.  At least he lived a good life to age 86.

Back next week for more of Steve's wonderful Belmont articles and more blogging. Thanks again everyone.

01 Jun 2012 10:02 PM

Alex'sBigFan, so sorry to hear of the loss of your Dad. You will be in our thoughts and prayers.

01 Jun 2012 10:52 PM
Paula Higgins

Alex'sBigFan, I am very sorry about the loss of your father. Please accept my sincere sympathy.

I have been a fan of IHA from the oerd go and had in my top 3 for the Derby and Preakness. I believe he has the best shot since Smarty Jones to win this thing. As for Smarty not having the pedigree. It wasn't relevant. That horse lost by an even tinier margin than the great Zenyatta lost her 2010 BCC. He was one great horse by any standard.

02 Jun 2012 12:52 AM

Having a real Triple crown looking horse is so exciting! I just hope we don't get a letdown.

02 Jun 2012 1:08 AM

I'm convinced IHA can handle the big oval, my concern is more directed at his rider. Yes, he has been terrific thus far, almost too good, all considered. The Belmont is a new experience for him and it's like nothing he's ever done. That's a big deal. Mario will be up against riders who know Belmont like the back of their hand and have gone the distance. I hope Mario's bond with the horse will overcome his lack of experience on the oval. I hope luck holds out for the new kid on the block. While I'm at it, I'd like to add this, shame on someone for running poor Optimizer in the Belmont. There is absolutely no point in exhausting the pony by making him run the grueling Belmont after he failed to show anything in the Derby and the Preakness. Like I said, it's shameful nonsense.

02 Jun 2012 2:47 AM

loved this, Steve- IHA looks so effortless as he covers the ground-it's hard to believe he is moving as fast as he is.  Thanks for all the information!

02 Jun 2012 3:11 AM
Ms Easy Goer

I always love great, POSITIVE articles written by industry insiders. They are so few and far these days. I hope the best horse wins. I also hope for a safe and enjoyable day for all. And lastly, congratulations to Shackleford- I love your heart! I have been a supporter since before last year's triple crown and I knew you would show us your greatness. Thanks to Dale Romans for believing in him and on to Saratoga!!!

02 Jun 2012 10:04 AM

To I'll Have Another and his entire team (including Lava Man, grandson of Seattle Slew) I can only say....


And kudos to Doug for consulting Billy Turner.

02 Jun 2012 10:58 AM

While I'll Have Another is not as diminutive as Jackson Bend or Mine That Bird (he's more comparable to Caracortado or Midnight Transfer) one thing that I've learned from experience is, between Lava Man eclipsing his left side and the giant groom blocking our view of his right side, it's not easy taking a good picture of him.  He's very well protected from the equine paparazzi.

The fact that IHA is one of the very few O'Neill horses (possible the only) that runs without blinkers strikes me as another indicator that this horse is special.  

02 Jun 2012 11:09 AM

The June 11th issue of "ESPN Magazine" (with Danica Patrick on the cover) has an interesting article about the training of I'll Have Another.  My husband is a runner and he was fascinated with the story.  The emphasis of the training is about endurance and the approach and use of equipment is similiar to how human runners train.  To no surprise, California trainers appear to be the ones embracing this method.  It is cetainly not traditional, but if this horse wins the Triple Crown, no doubt other trainers may start to consider adopting this practice.  

02 Jun 2012 11:30 AM
Age of Reason

Ditto what Katherine said, Mr. Haskin. I read quite a bit from the internet every day, but your articles seldom fail to be the highlight.

Alex'sBigFan: condolences, thoughts and prayers on your loss. MonicaV: Your quote sent chills up my spine: "I knew IHA was going to...sweep all three. I feel in in my bones. It's time." From your lips to God's ears, my friend!...

02 Jun 2012 12:44 PM
Pedigree Ann

It has been depressing to see the increase in size of the average TB over the last 4-5 decades.

Northern Dancer was advertized at 15h2in, but was stretching the truth a bit; he barely cleared 15h if that. 15h2 to 15h3 was probably average back then; 16h was a pretty good-sized horse, while 16h2 was big. Colts who looked like they would get to 17h were usually gelded, to keep them from developing a stallion's front-end weight and over-stressing their forelegs, like Forego, who still had iffy ankles throughout his career.

Raise a Native was a tall, bulky type horse whose ankles were insufficient support for his body, which is why he only ran 4 times. Raise a Native genes are all over the studbook now and one of the reasons we see so many of these "big, beautiful colts" who are prone to leg injuries. Yet yearling buyers are impressed by big colts, so commercial breeders breed to the big stallions (despite their often injury-shortened careers). It's a vicious circle. We used to have breed-to-race high-end breeders who didn't have to cater to the market, but these are for the most part gone.

02 Jun 2012 1:29 PM
Old Old Cat

Another great article Steve.  Thanks for the inside scoop.  According to your Blood Horse Mag, IHA ran the last fraction in 19.0.  He really didn't look like he was going that fast even though he was closing ground.  If he had enough left in the tank to run like that at the end of the Preakness, he should have more that enough for the Belmont.  And your analysis of his workout shows how efficient his stride is.  For the first part I thought he was loligaghing.

02 Jun 2012 3:24 PM

Steve, with Alpha gone I am starting to believe we may finally, finally, be cheering on a Triple Crown Hero. Mind you, he still has to beat Union Rags and Dullahan with Paynter the obvious wild card. European trainers have managed to win classics on similar regimens as O'Neill is perusing so I expect I'll Have Another to be more than ready for his biggest challenge.

Pedigree Ann, it's interesting what you wrote, with reference to 'massive front-ends' because I have been wondering myself what influence, as stallions, these '17 hand 3 year olds' will have commercially.

On a positive note, Bold Reasoning was a fair size with good bone and substance so it's a waiting game - caveat


02 Jun 2012 8:54 PM

Man, horse racing is an insular group. This article is funny because it reads the equivalent of someone discovering just yesterday that lifting weights builds muscles. Exercise science is the hallmark in businesses playing with billions upon billions of dollars as well as national/worldwide obsession(sport) that dwarfs horse racing. It is exceptionally advanced and even serious amateurs know all of the techniques. Apparently, the entire world, except  horse racing knows that to train to run a distance of ground at 90%+ capacity for the maximum distance, you train by running much longer distances than your race distance at 75-80% capacity with some short pre-determined intervals of  95% capacity(sprints). There is no argument, it is proven fact with massive increases  in human capacity to prove it. It is not a small advantage but a complete advantage yet no one does it in TB horse racing. Meanwhile, the TB really doesn't run 10f any faster than they did in 1910. The only increase is the obvious industry change in track conditioning almost over night around 1960 and the use of medication and PED's. With those things times are about still only 2 seconds better over a hundred years. We all know what humans have done and if you want to know what another horse has done with this type of training, look at harness racing where long distance interval training is the standard and :25-:30 seconds have been shaved off of typical race times during the same 100 year period. If someone came along and took the time to learn and incorporate this stuff into action with high quality TB's, they would clean up in the Triple Crown. Two trainers have done it now and won two legs of the TC easily with the best horse(Afleet Alex also ran a lot of miles galloping strongly. He often ran twice a day). And these trainers aren't even really running as long they could and should. It also is the way that you build up your tolerance against injury. As an 800meter runner, each time I am out pounding the track the stronger my shins, feet and muscles are for when I will be pounding way harder going all out. It's like the martial artist hitting their shin against a hard surface hardening against injury for when they really strike it with full intent. I have written it here many times because it is baffling that with all this money on the line no one in the TB horse racing actually knows the optimum way to train for the Kentucky Derby.

02 Jun 2012 9:05 PM

Pedigree Ann:  when people make public statements as if they are presenting facts they should be careful that they are in fact correct in their statements.  Raise A Native did NOT race only 4 times due to ankle problems.  He was retired due to a ruptured tendon sheath. It it obvious in your many negative comments about him that you do not like him and that is your perogative. However if you are going to publicly "blame him" for any problems in today's horses, you should probably present the science that backs up those claims as well....  Since his offspring (and therefore Native Dancer's and Mr Prospector's also) are the ones winning most of the big races for the past many years, I would take a barnful of them any day!

02 Jun 2012 9:09 PM
Paula Higgins

Pedigree Ann, interesting information and I totally get what you are saying. As much as I loved Zenyatta's physical appearance, it always worried me that she might have problems during a race with her legs. To me, Secretariat was the perfectly built horse. Union Rags is pretty spectacular looking as well.

02 Jun 2012 9:47 PM
Bill Two

What grabs me about this horse is his determination.  The way he dug in and ran down Bodemeister was impressive.  That's the kind of move only a very good horse could make. He is very good.

02 Jun 2012 10:08 PM
Greg R

Rusty is right about Birdstone. He came right back and won GrI at 1 1/4, right?  Showing his Belmont over Smarty was no fluke.  Then sired Belmont winner Summer Bird in first crop.

Funny Cide is always compared unfavorably to Empire Maker in terms of distance pedigree, going back to Jerry Bailey's comments before that Belmont.  I remember seeing that Funny Cide actually had the LOWEST Dosage number in the KY Derby field that year, including that of Empire Maker.  Lower Dosage number indicates greater stamina at the classic distances.  So, despite his middle-distance sire, Funny Cide's pedigree, viewed in depth, shows that this common misconception about the two rivals is a myth.

03 Jun 2012 12:27 AM

Nice article, I'm still trying not to get carried away at the possibility.  I didn't like IHA in the Derby and pretty much decided and thought was I was dead right that he would be 2nd to Bodemeister in the Preakness.  IHA and Super Mario are deserving of this win and I wish them the best.

03 Jun 2012 2:22 AM

Every horse is different but I like how Secretariat, was trained very hard for the Belmont.  

I read all the details of his training in William Nack's book.

03 Jun 2012 8:33 AM

Big Z ran late, suppose it made any difference? After all, she's a big girl. I think these horses  all need more time before they start running hard. It may have an impact on the high percentage of injuries suffered by young horses. I always thought the triple crown races should be for 4 year olds, but these days alot of 4 year olds are already in the breeding shed. It's very odd.

03 Jun 2012 8:43 AM

I don't know about Horse size for certain, but from photos I've seen, Man O'War seems quite large for a TB, and he goes back a long way.  Secretariat was 16h 2in. While the wild man Seattle Slew is listed at 16h...he always looked so much larger to me.  Perhaps he was, perhaps he just puffed himself up as an intimidator.  Rock Hard Ten was the largest colt to race at 17h 3in.  

Artists' renderings of Citation always seem to make his legs look a tad longer than his actual photos...it would be helpful to find a cohesive listing of all our heroes' sizes, but I think owners and trainers often have kept us in the dark.  They always said Zen was more than 17-1, but never said outright that she was 17-2.  ???? We know only that she was taller than Midnight Lute who is 17-1 because Baffert measured for himself.  Maybe all we have to do is look at the race of man...every generation, we stand a few inches taller.  

As far as the Raise A Native strain, I do believe genetic anomalies have shown up more in the Unbridled's Song line than in any other. "The breakdown of Eight Belles following the 2008 Kentucky Derby focused attention on the soundness record of Unbridled's Song's offspring. The stallion has developed an industry reputation for producing speed, precocity, and fragility."  He's a big roan who has big offspring.  In spite of the attention to his failings, he keeps producing winners like Unrivaled Belle who won the BC Distaff.

03 Jun 2012 9:10 AM

Great article. From the first time I saw him "gallop" at Belmont Park I was thinking the same thing. He is very economical and covers so much ground with what appears to be little effort. The Belmont will be interesting!

03 Jun 2012 12:51 PM
Barbara W


Thank you for this great article. I was one of the ones worried about the strategy. I won't be now. He looks great. Hoping for another TC winner--it has been too long, but most of all praying for safe trips for all. Dullahan is looking great too. What a race it is building up to be. Go, IHA.

03 Jun 2012 3:37 PM

Will one of the experts on here  explain why the big fuss over the nasal strip?  What is so wrong about it?  I am getting tired of NYRA always seemingly trying to interfer with a Triple Crown try ie detention barns.  But I still think IHA can over come it all. And in this numbers world he will be the 12th Triple Crown winner, the 12th to go for it since Affirmed and in 2012.  How many horses are running?!

03 Jun 2012 5:55 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   I'm sorry for your loss. It does help a little when a loved one has lived a full life but the pain and loss is still very difficult. I hope you're doing OK.

03 Jun 2012 6:01 PM

I hate to be a poor sport, but edging closer to the day, I'm getting nervous and I really wish Dullahan would've stayed home. He was my Derby pick along with Bode, and I think he has alot of potential to be the spoiler. Not this time, I have to think positive, I'll Have Another WILL win the Belmont.

03 Jun 2012 6:41 PM
Greg R

I just hope they give I'll Have Another a couple of easier days before Saturday.  If he is "galloping" as fast as a horse normally works, he needs to "taper" before the race, as Olympic swimmers say.  Is it even possible to get this colt to canter at a leisurely pace?

04 Jun 2012 12:45 AM
Thelwell Pony

ksweatman9 - I'm ashamed to say that I'm getting nervous about Dullahan and Paynter as well. My husband had Dullahan for the Derby... but he's on the IHA bandwagon now. Otherwise, it might be dangerous for him. :)

Alex'sBigFan, I am so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine not being with my Dad to watch this race. My heart goes out to you.

It looks like IHA is working without his nasal strip. Doesn't seem to be a problem! He is so much fun to watch. Thank you for hooking us up, Mr. Haskin!

I think the Belmont will be a very interesting race, and a nail-biter. Mr. Haskin, do you have any predictions yet as to who will want the early lead?

04 Jun 2012 10:23 AM

Rusty : Yeah, I'll probably toss Guyana or Optimizer.  I'm keeping Street Life though and the reason is that I'm not buying into Dullahan.  I don't know if Dullahan is his main opponent.  I probably will have a look at how Paynter looks as I don't see any other speed in the race, at least anyone that can go with Paynter.

Post 11 is perfect for IHA, all he needs is a clean break and Super Mario should have him in a good position.  Union Rags is again inside, we'll see what Johnny V. does.  He'll have to hustle him out or he'll get burried again.  With an added 2 furlongs, I don't know if he'll have enough left in the tank after having to gun it out from the 3rd hole.

06 Jun 2012 1:54 PM

IHA wins this in a gallop, just watch him an Bodemisteer running in the stretch of both their races, this horse is like oil in a can, he is absolutely fluid gaited, plus he has something you can't teach, that is desire and determinaton, he has it all.

07 Jun 2012 9:57 PM

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