Triple Crown hopeful I’ll Have Another was a “very happy horse” Tuesday morning as he continued to settle nicely into his new digs at Belmont Park, where on June 9 he will attempt to become the 12th horse to add the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes to victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
“He walked again this morning,” said Jack Sisterson, assistant to trainer Doug O’Neill, of I’ll Have Another, who arrived Sunday from Pimlico. “He looks great, fantastic. He’s a very happy horse. The main thing with this horse is, we can ship him around, and he settles right in. He just takes everything into stride.”
Sisterson said he remains impressed with how quickly J. Paul Reddam’s colt rebounded from his hard-fought victory over favored Bodemeister in the Preakness. Both horses earned a 109 Beyer Speed Figure for the 1 3/16-mile race, tops among 3-year-olds this year.
“Watching the replays of the race and looking at the numbers, you would think it would have taken a lot out of him, but that’s not the case,” he said. “He bounced back right out of the race in great shape, ate everything up in the morning, the day after he shipped, and again this morning, That’s the one thing you have to monitor after a race like that. He’s doing everything we wanted to see, and more.”
Sisterson added that I’ll Have Another would return to the track sometime later this week, and that O’Neill was scheduled to arrive early next week to supervise the Flower Alley colt’s remaining training.
In 2002, Ken McPeek upset the Belmont Stakes with Sarava as War Emblem’s Triple Crown bid came to an end, and the trainer will have a chance to play spoiler a second time in 2012.
McPeek’s Belmont-based assistant Lars Becdelamotte confirmed Atigun for the June 9 race and said he could be joined by lightly raced Unstoppable U.
Shortleaf Stable’s Atigun passed tiring rivals to finish fifth in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on April 14 before returning to win a Churchill Downs optional claimer by 1 ¼ lengths on May 5. He has breezed once at Belmont since shipping from Kentucky, turning in a 50.23 four-furlong move on May 19.
“He’s shown he can run,” said Becdelamotte. “He just keeps running and running. A mile-and-a-half distance should fit him really well. He seems to like the Belmont track since he got up here.”
Unstoppable U, owned by Magdalena Racing and Mojallali Stable, will compete at Belmont on June 9, either in the Belmont Stakes or the $90,000, 1 1/16-mile Easy Goer overnight stakes. Either race would be his stakes debut as he has made two starts to date, graduating by 2 ¾ lengths on March 31 at Aqueduct Racetrack and defeating fellow Belmont Stakes contender Guyana Star Dweej by 6 ¼ lengths in an April 27 optional claimer at Belmont.
“We had a little bit of a slow start with him, but he’s a very talented horse and if we could have started a little earlier with him we could have been on the Derby trail,” said Becdelamotte. “Right now we have to see if we’re going to run in the Belmont or not. Right now, we’re leaning towards it, but there’s going to be a stake on the undercard he could run in, too. It’s a big test, but he’s very talented and very fast, so we’ll just have to see.”
Becdelamotte said Atigun will work a half-mile and Unstoppable U will work five furlongs on Saturday. Both are slated to cover five eighths on May 2.
Street Life, who is under consideration for the Belmont Stakes off a third in the May 12 Grade 2 Peter Pan, will return to the Belmont worktab “over the next few days,” according to Cherie DeVaux, assistant to trainer Chad Brown.
“He came out of the race in good order and has been training very well,” said DeVaux.
In the Peter Pan, Street Life made up 9 ½ lengths in the final half-mile as he rallied from last of 10 to finish 1 ¾ lengths behind the winner, Mark Valeski, who on Monday was reported to be doubtful for the Belmont.
Owned by Magnolia Racing Stable LLC and Hidden Brook Farm, Street Life seeks his first victory since taking the Broad Brush overnight stakes on March 17 at Aqueduct. He sandwiched a sixth in the Grade 1 Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial between the Broad Brush and the Peter Pan.