I'll Have Another is enjoying life in Japan at Big Red Farm where he stood his first season at stud this year (Photos courtesy Eclipse Sportswire).
In a crop of colts that created some of the most competitive 3-year-old fields of recent times, I’ll Have Another stood above them all during the 2012 Triple Crown season.
Coming off of an undefeated spring run, I’ll Have Another entered a Kentucky Derby that included nine Grade 1 winners. But even after dominating a strong California contingent in the state’s prep races, I’ll Have Another went off as the ninth choice at 15.30- 1.
It looked like the bettors were right when making Bodemeister the race favorite as he easily led for most of the Derby. However, I’ll Have Another switched into race-winning mode in the stretch and caught the favorite at the sixteenth pole. He pulled away in the closing strides to win by 1 ½ lengths and give jockey Mario Gutierrez a Kentucky Derby win in his first attempt at the race.
I'LL HAVE ANOTHER WINS THE KENTUCKY DERBY
"He's an amazing horse. I kept telling everybody, from the first time I met him, I knew he was the one. I knew he was good," Gutierrez told NBCSports. "I said in an interview, even if they allowed me to pick from the whole rest of the field, I would have stayed with him, 100 percent, no doubt about it."
After the Derby victory, the fun-loving crew of trainer Doug O’Neill next headed to Pimlico Race Course to see if they could keep the party going for a few more weeks.
Just like the Kentucky Derby, Bodemeister went off as the favorite and took the lead from the start. This time, it looked like Bodemeister would get the best of I’ll Have Another. After going more than a second slower than the Kentucky Derby through the first quarter-mile of the race, Bodemeister didn’t give up the lead as easily as he had in the Kentucky Derby. It took all of the stretch for the Derby winner to catch the leader, but in the end I’ll Have Another won by a neck in an exciting Preakness finish.
I'LL HAVE ANOTHER'S PREAKNESS VICTORY
While I’ll Have Another was named after his owner’s love of his wife’s cookies, his name became fans’ catch phrase of the 2012 Belmont Stakes. I’ll Have Another would have been the first horse to attempt the Triple Crown sweep in five years and even though he was going to take on 11 other horses, it looked like he would be unstoppable.
But on the eve of the Belmont Stakes, the hopes of those waiting for a Triple Crown win were shattered.
On the Thursday before the Belmont, O’Neill had noticed something amiss with the colt but hoped I’ll Have Another had just hit himself during his morning gallop. When the problem resurfaced after his exercise on Friday morning, vets were called in.
It was discovered that the horse was developing tendonitis in a front leg and, while he could have potentially run with no issues, it was a chance the connections weren’t willing to take. They retired I’ll Have Another on the spot.
"This is extremely tough for all of us. It's far from tragic but it's extremely disappointing," O’Neill said.
The colt was paraded on Belmont Stakes day before the race, so fans who had come to see him in New York would have a chance to say good-bye. Later that day, Union Rags won the Belmont after finishing seventh to I’ll Have Another in the Kentucky Derby.
The next month, owner J. Paul Reddam announced that he had sold I’ll Have Another to Big Red Farm in Japan for $10 million. While he admitted that the money was part of the reason he sold, Japan also offered a better chance for the horse to succeed as a stallion.
Big Red Farm welcomed I’ll Have Another with open arms when he arrived in Japan, posting photos and videos on their Facebook page, something they continue to do nearly a year after his arrival.
I'LL HAVE ANOTHER POSING FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS SOON AFTER ARRIVING IN JAPAN
I’ll Have Another quickly settled into his new lifestyle and has been popular with both American and Japanese fans. His American fan base has been sure to keep in touch with him, with Big Red Farm getting inquires through multiple platforms.
“American fans ask how he is by email and through Facebook,” said Okada Hirokazu, Big Red Farm’s director.
Japanese breeders have also taken an interest the newest Kentucky Derby winner to stand in their country, sending a full book of mares to him. His former owner Reddam also is reportedly seeking to buy some mares in foal to I’ll Have Another in the near future.
“He has been very popular, he has covered about 150 mares this year. Mr. Reddam … also wants to buy mares in foal to I’ll Have Another or I’ll Have Another foals next year,” said Hirokazu.
Big Red Farm also is supporting him with their own mares, putting him high on the list of a stallion roster that includes Dubai World Cup winner Roses in May and two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Conduit.
For fans who want to keep in touch with I’ll Have Another’s adventures in Japan, they can visit Big Red Farm’s Facebook page here.