Here's why your family should root for I'll Have Another.
It's been 34 years since a horse has won the Triple Crown. Since then, 11 stallions have won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. But they've all failed to cross the wire first in the Belmont Stakes, a.k.a. the Test of Champions.
After all, it's their third race in just five weeks - and at a mile and a half, it's longer than the other two. And they're running their 1,100-pound bodies at nearly 40 miles per hour on ankles just slightly thicker than men's wrists.
Some facts to make it more fun for your family to watch the can't-miss-it race at 6:40 p.m. eastern time this Saturday in Elmont, N.Y.:
The competition. The chestnut I'll Have Another will face some well-rested foes: Dullahan (who finished third in the Derby) and Union Rags (who finished seventh in the Derby) and Paynter (who ran neither the Derby nor the Preakness). Close competitor Bodemeister is not running in this race.
The hoopla. On Thursday the Empire State Building will shine purple and white (I'll Have Another's colors) on its north and south sides. But alas, the hats and the celebrities are in shorter supply for the Belmont in the North than for the Derby in the South.
The history. Amazing as he is, I'll Have Another is no Secretariat (the 1973 Triple Crown winner). The great stallion still holds the speed records for the Derby and the Belmont.
The betting. To read up on the horses and see the odds, visit the Daily Racing Form. (Or you can just go for an eye-catching name, such as Unstoppable U.) Teach family and friends how to bet at the races, even if you're at home with play money. An Exacta is a wager on the first- and second-place horses, in order, and a Trifecta is a wager on the first-, second-, and third-place finishers, in order.
The name. Owner J. Paul Reddam (who made his money in the mortgage-lending business) named his colt I'll Have Another after his cookie-eating philosophy.
The jockey. On May 5, Mario Gutierrez, 25, won his first-ever Derby - atop I'll Have Another.
The music. The Derby plays "My Old Kentucky Home." The Belmont uses "New York, New York." (Controversy reigns even when it comes to songs. "Empire State of Mind" got to be the tune in 2010.)
The track. Horses run all three Triple Crown races on the dirt. With luck, the weather will hold up and I'll Have Another won't need to navigate the mud - which he seems to dislike. (Good news for the favorite: Wunderground.com is calling for partly cloudy and a high of 79 in Elmont, N.Y., on Saturday.)
The prize. The winner of the Belmont Stakes gets a blanket of white carnations - and $1 million. If I'll Have Another takes it, he will get a $5 million bonus for the Triple Crown.
The future. Whether or not he wins the Belmont and whether or not he races for another year or two, the horse should earn millions "at stud." (Top stallions get paid more than $100,000 per mare - and can mate with 200 a year.) Will the horse sire big winners? It remains to be seen. Seattle Slew was great. Secretariat? Not so much - though his fillies became good brood mares (a.k.a. moms).
And they're (almost) off!
For more stories about horseracing, read:
How to Prep for Derby Day