'I'll Have Another' needs one more

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June 8, 2012, 6:43 am
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(NECN/NBC News: Jay Gray) - The anticipation and excitement is building just outside of New York City, where I'll Have Another prepares for his chance to race in to history this weekend at the Belmont Stakes.

It's been 34 years since a horse has won the Triple Crown.

But after a surprise win in the Kentucky Derby and a come from behind victory at the Preakness, I'll Have Another and his team need just one more here to earn their spot alongside the greatest in the sport of kings.

At Belmont Friday morning, there is quiet on the eve of chaos.

This historic track firmly in the grasp of destiny and perhaps on the eve of history.

"This is what it's all about, this is the big stage, the big enchilada if you will,” says trainer Doug O’Neill, “so this is what we're all dreaming about".

It's been more than three decades, since the dream of a triple crown has come true.

But now, I'll Have Another needs just one more to change all of that.

"I think he's getting a lot of attention,” says O’Neill. “I just hope he lives up to the expectations".

He is an unlikely hero.

Until this weekend, I'll Have Another has never been favored to win a race.

He doesn't come from a high dollar lineage. Trainer O’Neill will tell you he's had limited success, none in the high profile Triple Crown races until now.

And jockey Mario Gutierrez is a rookie, who had never ridden in the Triple Crown until guiding I'll Have Another to wins in the Derby and the Preakness.

"I'm just trying to be focused on Belmont right now,” says Gutierrez. “All I think about is Belmont Stakes."

Still, it is impossible to ignore the legacy and legends of those who have come before.

Names that include War Admiral, Citation, Secretariat and Seattle Slew.

And the last to win the Triple Crown: Affirmed in 1978.

While they may try to block-out the overwhelming pressure that continues to build:

“It's not that big of a race really,” says O’Neill. “It's another race."

I'll Have Another's team, like so many, understands history and horse racing immortality lie just beyond the finish line here.

Since 1900, there have been 32 horses who have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, but only 11 have gone on to seal the deal.

Many falling victim to the longer mile-and-a-half oval here.

Of course I'll Have Another's team believes their horse can handle the distance.

Tags: Triple Crown, belmont stakes, horse racing, Jay Gray, I'll have another, the preakness, the kentucky derby, trainer doug o'neill, jockey mario gutierrez
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