Saturday, May 19, saw a thrilling finish at the Preakness Stakes as I'll Have Another charged ahead of Bodemeister to win the second leg of the Triple Crown. The Kentucky Derby winner became the next horse with hopes of becoming a Triple Crown winner, the first in 34 years.
It seems that one of the hardest things in sports is to win the Triple Crown. Secretariat won the title in 1973, 25 years after Citation won it in 1948. Seattle Slew took the prize in 1977, followed by Affirmed in 1978.
Only 11 horses have ever won the Triple Crown, and since Affirmed, 11 horses had the chance to accomplish the feat by winning both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.
I'll Have Another will either win the Triple Crown after the Belmont Stakes—the longest race of the three—or he will join the long list of "close, but no cigar."
Spectacular Bid (1979) would have been the third Triple Crown winner in as many years but failed at the Belmont. Pleasant Colony (1981), Alysheba (1987) and Sunday Silence (1989) have all faded into history after failing to win the Belmont.
During the 1990s, three horses made viable Triple Crown bids: Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and Charismatic (1999) were all great horses, but all failed. We changed millenniums, and we're still looking for that next elusive Triple Crown winner.
Again, a stretch of darn close, almost teasing years followed. War Emblem (2002), Funny Cide (2003) and Smarty Jones (2004) gave racing fans another three years of Belmont drama that ended without a Triple Crown winner.
The last horse to have a chance to win the Triple Crown was Big Brown in 2008. A cracked hoof ended his bid, making him the first hopeful to come in dead last in the third race.
One thing that has made it harder to win the Triple Crown is fresher horses in the second two races. Many of the horses that run in the Kentucky Derby skip the Preakness. That opens the door for horses that didn't win the Derby to race in the Preakness. Then again, some Derby runners come into the Belmont fresher after skipping the Preakness.
Bodemeister could be the key.
In 1978, Affirmed raced his rival, Alydar, who finished a close second in all three Triple Crown races. I'll Have Another has Bodemeister to push him the way Affirmed had Alydar. If both horses get off to a good start with no bad luck or injury out of the gate, they could race each other into history.
Yes, Affirmed won the Triple Crown, but Alydar is remembered for his effort.
On June 9, will it be one more win and a page in the history books for I'll Have Another—or will it become 35 years of waiting?
Follow Bryan Flynn at http://www.jfpsports.com, Facebook and @jfpsports.