Man, there are a lot of people saying what a rough race jockey Mario Gutierrez is in store for as he and I’ll Have Another vie for the Triple Crown on Saturday at Belmont Park.
They say Gutierrez, who has never ridden the monster oval, may get eaten up as he tries to figure out the pace and when to make a move and when not to.
They point out how it has happened to other jockeys, some with way more experience riding at Belmont than Gutierrez, who were in the same predicament — one win from racing immortality.
To all that I say ... :
Gutierrez has the best horse and the best horse for the race.
If it’s a slow pace, he’ll shoot I’ll Have Another to the lead. If it’s a solid pace, he’ll position him just off the leader’s flank.
Either way, he’ll be right where you need to be in the Belmont Stakes when making the turn for home — in the top three — and probably with plenty left in the tank for the stretch run.
A time and a place:
While Penny Chenery, owner of the late, great Secretariat, chose to publicly rip I’ll Have Another’s trainer Doug O’Neill, Patrice Wolfson, owner of the last Triple Crown winner Affirmed understood the big picture while talking about IHA’s chances of joining the elite TC club.
“He looks like he would be a good successor if it comes about,” Wolfson said. “Maybe the time has come now. Racing needs a horse that will bring a lot of excitement, and this little guy can do that.”
At the wire:
1. I’ll Have Another
2. Union Rags
With all the talk about the Cubs and their interest in 19-year-old Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler, why do I get the feeling the White Sox might pull off a shocker in the Soler Sweepstakes?
The season in a nutshell:
Thinking that camera shot of Dale Sveum shaking his head in the dugout after Starlin Castro’s phantom third out in San Francisco will be the lasting image of the Cubs’ season.
And boom goes the kielbasa:
Really, is there anything funnier than seeing one of the mascots take a spill during the sausage race at Miller Park?
A close second:
Would be the “Melk Men,” that group of guys at AT&T Park who don 1950s style milk men attire as a salute to Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera.
On course for a border war:
Longtime rivals and bitter enemies, the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears, will don their most comfortable slacks as they battle for supremacy on the freshly manicured fairways of Medinah Country Club.
Yeah, it might not have quite the same cache without words like tundra, Lambeau or Soldier Field, but as long as Coach Ditka is part of the competition — and he is scheduled to be — you better believe the first “Rivalry Cup,” in conjunction with this year’s Ryder Cup, should be some kind of competition.
A pair of golfers with Illinois connections — Kevin Streelman and D.A. Points — will be paired for the first two rounds of the U.S. Open next week at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.
Who will produce the best results over the next couple of months: Gar Forman, Stan Bowman, Kenny Williams or Jed Hoyer?
One more for the road:
How apropos would it be for the L.A. Kings finish off the series and capture the Stanley Cup … in New Jersey?
That would make them a perfect 11-0 away from home during the playoffs.
Larry Hagman’s eyebrows in that promo for the return of “Dallas” on TNT.
What former NHL player Darren McCarty and his wife have been enduring.
He said it:
“I expect Mario and I’ll Have Another to join us. I’ll Have Another shows the best form right now. He has beaten every horse he has taken on this year through four races. I just think it’s time.”
— Former jockey Steve Cauthen, who guided Affirmed to the Triple Crown in 1978.
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