Wed Jun 06 03:59pm EDT
BELMONT, N.Y. — With an eye towards claiming the sport's first Triple Crown in 34 years, I'll Have Another received good news in Wednesday morning's draw with a favorable post. The horse will start the race at post No. 11, the second to last spot from the outside in what had to be a tremendous lift for the 4-5 favorite.
By avoiding a draw along the rail, I'll Have Another will avoid the usual pile-up and jockeying for position at the starting gate. There is the added benefit that jockey Mario Gutierrez can better observe the race's opening quarter-turn from the outside and can see how to best pace his horse for the 1 ½ mile race, the longest over the three Triple Crown races.
O'Neill, who is aiming for his first career win at the Belmont Stakes, says that he hasn't yet talked strategy with Gutierrez.
"Not really. We're going to huddle up and talk; being in the 11th hole, we're able to kind of see how the pace sets up," O'Neill said.
"If they're crawling, we'll hopefully be leading the crawl, and if they're flying, we'll be sitting in behind the horses flying."
The rest of the draw shaped up pretty well for I'll Have Another, with the other pre-race favorites drawing inside positions. At 6-1, Union Rags was a popular pick for the Kentucky Derby but finished a disappointing seventh and he drew the third position. It is a slot closer to the rail than jockey Johnny Velasquez or trainer Mike Matz would have liked.
"If I had my choice I would have picked a little further out," Matz said.
"I think the horse has enough speed to be in a decent position."
No one will be tighter to the inside to start the race then Street Life, who drew the inside position. In mid-May, Street Life recently ran third at Belmont in the Grade II Peter Pan Stakes.
"I talked to my jockey the other day, Jose Lezcano, and I asked him, 'Where do you want to be?' and he said, 'I like to be inside.' You can't get any more inside than that. He got his wish. That's where he wants to be," trainer Chad Brown said.
"When it comes down to post position, I'm more interested in what the jockeys want. He wants to be inside, so he's inside."
Follow Yahoo! Sports Kristian R. Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for updates on the Belmont Stakes all week long.
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