Seeking to create a quieter experience on Friday for Triple Crown hopeful I’ll Have Another, trainer Doug O’Neill sent his charge to the track at 5:30 a.m. for a jog and gallop.
“It’s been very hectic the last few days, so we thought we would take him out when it’s quieter,” O’Neill said. “The detention barn setup with all 12 of the horses going out at the same time has been a little bit hectic. The simple thing of just trying to find a place to bathe your horse has been kind of congested. We thought we would come out early, and it would be quieter. We want to get him in the quietest frame of mind leading up to the biggest race of his life.”
The 3-year-old son of Flower Alley had been galloping consistently every morning since Friday, May 25, but O’Neill changed up the routine slightly this morning. I’ll Have Another jogged a half-mile and then galloped an “easy” mile, all in company with Lava Man.
“He is fit and ready to go and we are just trying to let him bring as much energy to the table tomorrow as possible,” O’Neill said. “We thought giving him an easy day the day before would be a good move. He stayed with coach Lava Man just to keep everything off-speed. I was very pleased with it. Perfect. We are ready to roll.”
Saturday in the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park, the J. Paul Reddam-owned I’ll Have Another will seek to become thoroughbred racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner, and the first since Florida-bred Affirmed in 1978. The race will be broadcast live on NBC with a post time of 6:40 p.m.
–NYRA Press contributed to this report.
I’ll Have Another and Lava Man/NYRA photo