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Iíll Have Another
The year was 1978. The average price of a new house was $54,000.
A gallon of gas cost 63 cents.
The average annual income was $17,000.
The inflation rate in the U.S. was 7.6 percent.
After 30 years, the Volkswagen Beetle stopped production.
Also in 1978, Affirmed won horse racing’s most coveted prize, the Triple Crown, becoming the 11th horse to win the big three: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness in Maryland and the Belmont in New York.
Since 1978, 11 horses have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown and come up short in the third and final race, the Belmont.
Now, for the first time since 2008, a horse has a chance going into Belmont to win the Triple Crown. I’ll Have Another is named for his owner’s penchant to finish off a batch of cookies only to exclaim, “I’ll have another.”
Saturday, in a repeat of the Kentucky Derby two weeks earlier, the long-striding chesnut colt with the furious kick ran down the bay colt Bodemeister in the home stretch to win the 137th Preakness. I’ll Have Another came from behind to win by a neck in front of a record crowd of 121,000 fans — and millions more watching on TV.
Creative Cause made it a 1-2-3 sweep for California horses in the Preakness. The sweep must bother Kentucky, where horse racing is as much a way of life as bourbon whiskey, bluegrass, pot, Kentucky Fried Chicken and inbreeding jokes.
Bought for just $35,000, which is peanuts in horse racing and maybe the best deal since Alaska was bought for $7.2 million in 1867 from the Russians, I’ll Have Another is the ultimate underdog ... errr, horse. He has never been favored in any of his seven races. He’s won five times, claiming $2.7 million in prize money.
Some observers think the June 9 Belmont Stakes, which at 1 1/2 miles is the longest race of the Triple Crown, will prove too much of a challenge for I’ll Have Another.
I know better than to ever doubt I’ll Have Another again.
His jockey is a big believer. He’s the one who gets the best seat in the horse race, flying around the track at 35 mph.
“It’s not about me; it’s about the horse,” 25-year-old jockey Mario Gutierrez said. “He just keeps proving people wrong.”
Gutierrez has a Northwest connection — he trained at the Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver. B.C., for six years.
If all goes well, at Belmont he’ll have another ... win. And maybe the horse will get one of his owner’s cookies.