USA: Early-morning jog for I’ll Have Another

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By Nicholas Godfrey in New York
Racing Post

USA: I’ll Have Another, who bids to complete the Triple Crown in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, is “ready to roll” according to his trainer Doug O’Neill after a light piece of early-morning exercise on Friday.

The son of Flower Alley, out to become the first Triple Crown for 34 years, was up early at the Classic venue to complete his preparation with a quiet jog and a gallop with his constant workmate, the multiple Grade 1 winner Lava Man.

“It’s been very hectic the last few days, so we thought we would take him out when it’s quieter,” O’Neill said.

“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,” added the trainer.

“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.”

Since Wednesday, the Doug O’Neill-trained colt has been housed with the remainder of the Belmont Stakes field in a special detention barn after a controversial edict from state regulators to isolate the Classic field which has angered trainers.

O’Neill commented: “The detention barn set-up 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. Hopefully he will be back resting in his stall when 8:30am rolls around and a lot of the hectic activity starts. We want to get him in the quietest frame of mind leading up to the biggest race of his life.”

I’ll Have Another is hot favourite with British bookmakers to overcome the hoodoo and become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed and Steve Cauthen in 1978.

The Belmont, which takes place at 11.40pm BST, will be shown live in Britain on ATR.

Dale Romans, who saddles Kentucky Derby third Dullahan in the Belmont, was among those to slam the introduction of the detention barn.

“It is just ridiculous,” he said. “It’s not going to affect the outcome of the race, I don’t believe but it’s just not right to take them out of their environment and move them out somewhere else three days out from the biggest day of their life.”

With Stateside racing under scrutiny from the media, the move is widely perceived as an attempt to demonstrate how ‘clean’ the Belmont is.

“I think this causes poor perception and it makes people think even worse of the game when really, this is a very clean sport,” Romans said, speaking at a press conference.

“They could have quietly put guards on every horse and never been talked about in the paper. It’s run properly. There’s enough regular checks and balances put into place to make sure it’s an even playing field, and this whole thing isn’t really necessary.”

View the original article at the Racing Post

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