Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another will bid to confirm the Classic form as he clashes again with Bodemeister in tonight’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.
I’ll Have Another ran down Bodemeister in the stretch to win by a length and a half, but many American experts are expecting the places to be reversed this time.
Jockey Mike Smith came in for plenty of criticism after the Derby, with the considered opinion being Bodemeister was asked for his effort too early.
Trainer Bob Baffert has, nevertheless, stuck with Smith.
“He never took a step backward (after the Derby),” said Baffert.
“He bounced out of it pretty well. He’s a pretty tough horse. He filled out nice and seems to be doing good.
“I think if he was going to bounce, he would have bounced in the Kentucky Derby off the Arkansas Derby. He is a pretty fit horse so he can handle what we have thrown at him.
“The horses that ran in the Derby are going to be the biggest threats. But when your horse is one dimensional, it is hard to worry about your rivals,” he said.
I’ll Have Another has won his last three races for owner Paul Reddam.
His trainer Doug O’Neill will be having his first ever runner in the Preakness.
“He looks fantastic; great energy,” said O’Neill. “He’s maintained his beautiful, long stride. The great thing about I’ll Have Another is that his first step out of the gate is very quick.
“If Bodemeister is going to get an easy lead, we’ll just push him. Somewhere in mid-race, hopefully we can take a little breather. Somewhere around that three-eighths (pole), we’ll have to go after him and hopefully have a good stretch duel and end up on the winning end again.”
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