Here are your 2012 Belmont Stakes news and notes for today, including the return to the track of I'll Have Another.
I'll Have Another Returns To Track
Triple Crown hopeful I'll Have Another returned to the track for the first time since Saturday's Preakness victory, jogging around Belmont Park's 1 ½-mile oval Wednesday morning shortly after the renovation break with exercise rider Hector Ramos aboard.
"We took him to the track and jogged him once around, and he looked absolutely super," said Jack Sisterson, assistant to trainer Doug O'Neill. "The way he looked was everything and more I'd want to see in him. Energy level was high, got over the ground well, ate up everything last night. Just looks super. He came out of the Derby in the exact same shape, and came out of the Preakness, if not the same, probably better."
Union Rags Looking For Clean Trip In Belmont
Trainer Michael Matz said that Union Rags will work either Thursday or Friday at Fair Hill training center in preparation for the Belmont, in which he will have the services of new jockey John Velazquez.
"It's been frustrating, I don't think in either of his last two races he got a chance to really run," said Matz of Union Rags. "I just hope he gets a clean trip. Whether he's good enough to beat [I'll Have Another], I don't know. I just want him to get a clean trip and show what he can do.
"I wouldn't be going in [the Belmont] if I didn't think he could beat I'll Have Another," he added. "He's a big horse, and once he gets into a nice rhythm ... that's why we went with John Velazquez. He knows New York."
Dullahan Trainer Wants To Make I'll Have Another Earn Triple Crown
If Dullahan were to spoil the Triple Crown bid, would trainer Dale Romans feel any remorse?
"Absolutely not," Romans said without hesitation during a Wednesday teleconference. "I think we owe it to the past Triple Crown winners to make [I'll Have Another] earn it. If he's a super horse, like Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Secretariat, and some of our past Triple Crown winners, then he'll win it. If not, we'll be able to beat him."
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"I’m trying not to think too much about the Belmont," Gutierrez said on a national teleconference that seemed to bring out just about every journalist in Western Canada. "I just want to chill out a little. When the time comes I’ll start preparing for the Belmont. I’ll get there early and ride over the track and watch video of past Triple Crown winners and the horses in the Belmont. I try not to put too much pressure on myself. Whatever is meant to happen will happen. If I give 100 percent and I’ll Have Another gives 100 percent I’ll be happy. So far, he’s always given me 100 percent and that’s what gives me so much confidence."
So much has happened in his life since the day he was told by agent Ivan Puhich to go to O’Neill’s barn and work one of his 3-year-olds that was supposed to be a runner, having already finished second in last year’s Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) behind grade I winner Creative Cause before being sidelined with sore shins suffered in the Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes (gr. I).
"At first I thought he was joking," Gutierrez said. "I was surprised the way the horse moved. I knew right away he was a good horse. I told my agent afterward they weren’t going to use me on a horse this good. He was different from any other horse I’ve ever ridden. He was so professional the way he moved. It was like being in an expensive sports car with a lot of gears. He’d go faster every time you asked him. You have no idea how much he loves racing. He never hesitates. He loves to fight and catch horses. It’s an amazing feeling to be on top of him. I’m positive he knows exactly where the wire is. He’s capable of doing amazing things and has the biggest heart ever."