I'll Have Another
If there is any horse that lived up to his name, it could very well have been this chestnut son of Flower Alley.
Making his debut during the 2011 spring/summer meet at Hollywood Park, I'll Have Another wasted no time getting into the win column, leading most of the 5 1/2 furlong sprint while starting widest of all in the gate. Next came Del Mar, where I'll have Another was second in his initial stakes try, the Grade II Best Pal. Like he did in his bow, the colt set the early pace, delivering fast fractions before getting passed late.
Sent to Saratoga for the Grade I Hopeful, that proved to be the 2011 finale for the Doug O'Neill charge. It was a race where nothing went right, with I'll Have Another far back early on an off track while racing wide at one point. Looking back on his career, that visit to the Spa proved to be a throw out race, especially given what was in store for him in 2012.
The story of I'll Have Another's name stemmed from owner J. Paul Reddam's response to when his wife asked him if he wanted more of the cookies she had made. It could be said that it was the theme of his 3 year old season. Resurfacing in the Grade II 2012 Robert B. Lewis Stakes with new rider Mario Gutierrez, I'll Have Another was the surprise winner at more than 40-1 odds. He was close to the pace in that one, and he learned how to rate. That would be an important tool for him going forward.
Using that tactic again in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby paid off handsomely. I'll Have Another stayed close to leader Blueskiesnrainbows before making his bid. The result was a nose victory in the biggest Kentucky Derby prep race in California, and that meant a trip to Louisville was in store.
Something interesting about I'll Have Another was that he always seemed to win at a price. In all of his seven career starts, he actually never went off as the post time favorite. In fact, it was not uncommon for him to be a longshot, and that was precisely his status on the First Saturday in May. Part of it may have been he drew the 19 spot in the starting gate, or maybe it was because his fellow Southern California based horse, Bodemeister, was getting late buzz for his 9 1/2 length win in the Grade I Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park three weeks prior. At any rate, I'll Have Another was back at double digit odds on the tote board when the Derby started. However, he ran like a champion.
The race went perfectly for him and Gutierrez. They broke well and settled within a few lengths of the front early on. Benefitting from a lightning fast pace for the 1 1/4 mile distance, I'll Have Another charged down the frontstretch as Bodemeister attempted to win after leading the whole way. But I'll Have Another refused to lose, catching the top choice in the waning moments to become the newest winner of the classic. That meant a chance for the Triple Crown.
Two weeks later at Pimlico, the racing world saw a rematch in the Preakness. Bodemeister won the battle for favoritism, the likely theory being he would prevail on the slight cutback in distance. People saw I'll Have Another winning, too, making him the second choice. Many believed that one of two scenarios would play out. Either I'll Have Another would go for the Triple Crown at Belmont Park, or Bodemeister would avenge his Derby defeat from a fortnight earlier.
The Preakness played out quite similarly to what happened at in Louisville. Bodemeister seized control early and looked to lead the field all the way. I'll Have Another stayed within a few lengths the entire way around Pimlico, and in the stretch, he came roaring again. The two were on their way to another close finish, neither one giving up as their rematch played out to millions.
There was another close finish. They once again made up the top two in the final order. But the result matched that of the Kentucky Derby. I'll Have Another successfully rallied again, getting up in time to win by a neck to keep his Triple Crown bid going. Being a dual classic winner already put him on a short list of horses that won two Triple Crown events, but now he had the chance to do what at the time only eleven before him had done.
In the weeks between the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, the anticipation was heightened. It seemed like I'll Have Another just could not lose. He kept battling. He kept winning. And he was gaining a fan base. There was wonder as to whether the chestnut colt could accomplish what had not been seen since Affirmed in 1978. Many looked forward to Belmont Stakes Day and there was optimism he could break the drought.
However, that all changed on the day before the race. It was discovered that I'll Have Another sustained a tendon injury, which meant his chances for a sweep were finished. His racing career was complete as of that moment, too.
But it did not matter. I'll Have Another captured so many fans during his 3 year old season. Another honor would come later, for he was voted Top 3 Year Old for his efforts at the Eclipse Awards. A breeding career followed in Japan, where he sired dozens of winners before returning to California for stud duty in 2019.
Looking back on the career of I'll Have Another, he was a talented racehorse that was easy to root for and admire. People love to see effort, and that was an area where he excelled. He also brought joy to racing, which at the time was undergoing negative press, and there was nothing but good when it came to I'll Have Another.
Several years have gone by since his 2012 campaign, but the chestnut colt with the stirring stretch runs is remembered fondly. He is a true champion in every sense of the word, and a true paragon in the sport of Thoroughbred racing.