There was a near action replay of the Kentucky Derby at Pimlico on Saturday when the Doug O’Neill-trained I’ll Have Another once again narrowly defeated Bodemeister to land the Preakness Stakes and inch a step closer to Triple Crown glory.
While England awaits a Derby victory from Camelot on June 2 to make the Triple Crown a possibility on this side of the Atlantic, I’ll Have Another will now bid to add his name to the Triple Crown roll of honour underneath that of Affirmed, the most recent horse to pull off all three American Classics, in 1978.
In the interim, such superstar names as Spectacular Bid, Pleasant Colony, Alysheba, Sunday Silence, Silver Charm, Real Quiet, Charismatic, War Emblem, Funny Cide, Smarty Jones and Big Brown have all won the first two legs before finding the 12-furlong Belmont Stakes, run this year on June 9, a bridge too far.
It has been even longer since England has seen a Triple Crown winner, with Nijinsky having been the last horse to win the 2,000 Guineas, Derby and St Leger in 1970. Since then only two horses have had the option of emulating that feat – Nashwan in 1989 and Sea The Stars in 2009 – but the connections of both horses decided to swerve the St Leger.
Talk of a Triple Crown bid for Camelot is, of course, premature when he has yet to win at Epsom, but the omens are good should he do so. His sire Montjeu has already been responsible for two winners of the world’s oldest Classic via his first-crop son Scorpion and last year’s victor Masked Marvel, and Camelot’s sporting connections at Ballydoyle have sent out three St Leger winners since the turn of this century. Let’s hope they won’t overlook the great race should the opportunity arise to own the first Triple Crown winner in 42 years.