Preakness appears to be two-horse race

While the Preakness Stakes appears to be a two-horse affair between Kentucky Derby champ I'll Have Another and the speedster Bodemeister, the owner of Went the Day Well is waving the caution flag.

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Preakness appears to be two-horse race
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Preakness appears to be two-horse race

Barry Iwrin concedes most eyes on Saturday will be fixed on the two heavily favored Southern California-based colts but he sees a silver lining for his bay son of Proud Citizen.

"In the best of all possible worlds, Bodemeister, that Derby race, has got to tell something on him," said Irwin, head of the Team Valor International syndicate that owns Went the Day Well.

"You can't run as fast and as hard as he did and not have it affect you.

"I'll Have Another, if he wants to win the Triple Crown or win the Preakness, the onus is on him to go after Bodemeister. And if both those things happen, and my horse breaks cleanly, I hopefully will be the beneficiary."

I'll Have Another and Bodemeister showed why they are at the head of the three-year-old class by dominating the field at the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago at Churchill Downs.

Arkansas Derby winner Bodemeister, ridden by Mike Smith, appeared headed for a gate to wire victory but ran out of steam in the stretch and settled for second, a length-and-a-half behind hard-charging I'll Have Another.

Since Pimlico's surface favors front-runners more than Churchill Downs, the scenario for Saturday's 11-horse, 1-3/16 mile mile-and-three-sixteenths race looks to be a familiar one.

"It will probably be the two of us unless somebody else wants to join the fray," said Bodemeister trainer Bob Baffert, looking to saddle his sixth Preakness winner. "I figure the horses coming out of the Derby are the biggest threats. I don't know much about the new shooters."

Because the Preakness is shorter than the Derby, front-running Bodemeister has been installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite, while the Doug O'Neill-trained chestnut I'll Have Another is second at 5-2.

New York-bred Went the Day Well, who finished fourth in Louisville, and Santa Anita Derby runner-up Creative Cause, both at 6-1, are likely to be in the mix should Bodemeister and I'll Have Another encounter problems.

I'll Have Another jockey Mario Gutierrez, who won the Derby on his first try, handled the pressure beautifully at Churchill Downs and said he is ready for an encore.

"A lot of people thought I was going to melt down there," the soft-spoken, 25-year-old Gutierrez said. "You know what? The horse is going to take me there. I believe in the horse.

"He did it for me in the Kentucky Derby, he's looking great and he's going to do it again. I'm not doing anything. The horse is just proving a lot of people wrong."

Daddy Nose Best, who finished 10th in the Derby after getting bumped in the stretch and tiring, is at 12-1, while the Michael Matz-trained colt Teeth of the Dog is at 15-1.

Went the Day Well was the fastest closer on Derby day after having been bumped at the start and forced four-wide. Trainer Graham Motion, who won the Derby a year ago with Animal Kingdom and finished second in the Preakness, said I'll Have Another is the top dog until proven otherwise.

"Doug's horse had a great run," he said. "It somewhat amuses me that people want to talk about the other horses. He won the race. He was the best horse on the day.

"He had a great trip. We had a great trip last year. There's always going to be horses that didn't have a great trip in the Derby. Doug's horse is the horse to beat."

If I'll Have Another wins the Preakness, he could become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 with a victory on June 9 at the Belmont Stakes in New York.

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