NEW YORK (AP) — Triple Crown hopeful I'll Have Another took another tour around Belmont Park on a rainy Friday, this time galloping a mile under exercise rider Humberto Gomez.
After two days of 1 1/2-mile jogs, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner picked up the pace as he prepares for the Belmont Stakes on June 9, when he will attempt to become thoroughbred racing's first Triple Crown champion in 34 years.
I'll Have Another was accompanied by his stable pony, Lava Man, as he entered the track with steady rain falling. His ears were pricked forward as the chestnut colt galloped through the stretch before being pulled up on the turn.
"He was a little hard to pull up," Gomez said. "He felt really good. We're happy because he came out of the last race very good. He handled the track very, very well."
Trainer Doug O'Neill, who returned to California after the Preakness, is scheduled to arrive at Belmont on Sunday. His assistant, Jack Sisterson, has been overseeing the colt this week.
"He looked super," Sisterson said. "One thing we were looking to see how he got over the track, stride-wise, and he looked fantastic. The rider said he felt good, and he's happy, so we're happy."
O'Neill was suspended for 45 days by the California Horse Racing Board on Thursday for exceeding the approved limit for total carbon dioxide in one of his horses. The suspension will not begin before July 1, so O'Neill will be able to saddle I'll Have Another when the colt tries to join the likes of Secretariat, Citation and Affirmed as the 12th Triple Crown winner.
There could be as many as 11 challengers: Alpha, Atigun, Dullahan, Five Sixteen, Guyana Star Dweej, Optimizer, Paynter, Ravelo's Boy, Street Life, Union Rags and Unstoppable U.