Is this finally the year?

Is this finally the year?
May 20, 2012, 1:37 am
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By John Eisenberg
CSNwashington.com

OK, quick quiz: Who resided in the White House the last time a horse won racings Triple Crown?

Hint: You have to go back father than you think.

The correct answer is Jimmy Carter, who was president when Affirmed captured the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in 1978.

Its been 34 years since racing witnessed a Triple Crown winner, and after capturing the Preakness with a dramatic stretch run Saturday at Pimlico Race Course, Ill Have Another will get a chance to break the drought in the Belmont early next month.

We're thinking Triple Crown, baby, said Doug O'Neill, who trains Ill Have Another. He's a special horse. We'll see how he comes out of (the Preakness), and if he comes out of it in good shape, we're heading to New York, baby.

The chances of him not taking a shot in New York are virtually nil. The entire sport of horse racing wants to see him make history and generate some headlines.

Even the trainers and jockeys who lost to Ill Have Another Saturday were excited to see him win.

It was an amazing race. Good to see a Triple Crown on the line. Thats good for the sport, said trainer Dale Romans, whose horse, Cozzetti, finished seventh Saturday.

Im happy for the winner and a chance for the Triple Crown, said trainer Ignacio Correas, whose horse, Tiger Walk, finished eighth.

Since Affirmed won in 1978, 10 horses have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and taken a run at the Triple Crown in the Belmont. Theyve all fallen short, in a variety of fashions. Spectacular Bid stepped on a pin in his stall and didnt run his usual race in 1979. Silver Charm lost at the wire in 1997. Smarty Jones ran out of gas down the stretch in 2004. Big Brown appeared ed utterly disinterested in 2008.

Now its Ill Have Anothers turn.

The buildup will be New York-style big, and several serious challengers will likely be lying in wait for him, led by Dullahan, the horse that finished third in the Derby and skipped the Preakness. Union Rags, another talented horse that ran seventh in the Derby but had bad luck during the race, is also expected to enter.

There are a lot of horses that have been in this position in the last 15 years, and it didnt happen for them, said J. Paul raddam, who owns Ill Have Another. So were only two-thirds there, right? So weve got to be cool, and try to block everything out. When we get to the Belmont, just ride the race, and if it happens, it happens.