Things just got a little easier in I'll Have Another's bid to be horse racing's first winner of the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978. Bodemeister, the runner-up in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, won't participate in the Belmont Stakes, trainer Bob Baffert revealed to the New York Daily News Sunday. Baffert said the decision was intended to give Bodemeister, who was leading nearly wire-to-wire in both races before succumbing to I'll Have Another in the final stretches, a rest.
Interestingly enough, Baffert also said a Triple Crown for I'll Have Another would be good for the sport as a whole, indicating that may have also been a factor in his decision. From the NYDN article:
"It's one of those things where it's good for the sport," Baffert said of I'll Have Another's victory in the Preakness and a chance at immortality. "It's good for the Belmont."
No horse was really all that close to I'll Have Another in each race other than Bodemeister, so this appears to be the best chance at a Triple Crown we've seen since perhaps Smarty Jones back in 2004.