When a Thoroughbred sells for only $11,000, a mere pittance in a game nicknamed “The Sport of Kings,” a racing career at one of the nation's dozens of minor-league tracks is almost certain to follow. That certainly wasn't the case with I'll Have Another, however. On June 9, the colt who was overlooked and vastly underrated as a youngster, could place himself in the pantheon of the sport's all-time greats with a win in the Belmont Stakes.
I'll Have Another was bred in Kentucky by Harvey Clarke, 70, who is president of a New York City-based real estate company. Clarke's small-scale breeding operation typically breeds only about 10 mares a year, which makes it all the more remarkable that he may become just the ninth breeder to ever produce a Triple Crown winner (Calumet Farm and Belair Stud, two of the legendary names in the sport, each bred two Triple Crown winners.)
I'll Have Another was produced through the mating of Flower Alley, the 2005 Travers Stakes winner who stood for a fee of $25,000 the year of conception, and Arch's Gal Edith. During his first two years of life, I'll Have Another did little to distinguish himself, according to Clarke.
“He was a little weak behind, and he was a little immature,” Clarke told Daily Racing Form days after the Kentucky Derby. “I can't say I hated him, but I can't say I loved him, either. He was just a horse. Obviously, the price he brought (at auction as a yearling), nobody loved him.”
The $11,000 I'll Have Another sold for as a yearling amounted to a financial loss for Clarke, but it turned into a windfall for the buyers. After I'll Have Another began to show signs of progress early in his 2-year-old year, he was put back up for sale at auction. After breezing an eighth of a mile in a decent time 10.4 seconds before the sale, I'll Have Another caught the eye of Dennis O'Neill, who was there buying horses for high-end owner J. Paul Reddam. O'Neill secured I'll Have Another for just $35,000, which is still a relatively modest price and an absolute steal for a horse that today is easily worth tens of millions of dollars. In fact, the price was so low that Reddam has said he questioned O'Neill initially on the buy.
For Clarke's part, he said he has taken his decision to sell a potential Triple Crown winner all in stride, even when he reflects on the fact some on his team suggested buying back I'll Have Another after his decent work at the 2-year-old sale.
“I said, you know we sold him; let's leave him sold,” Clarke told DRF. “What the heck, there are other horses out there. Ha. Not a good move.”
Shortly after the sale, I'll Have Another was sent to trainer Doug O'Neill in Southern California to start training for his racing career. He made three starts as a 2-year-old, which included a maiden-level win in his debut at Hollywood Park and a runner-up finish to future Kentucky Derby and Preakness rival Creative Cause in the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes. I'll Have Another has continued to flourish with time and maturity and is now riding a four-race win streak heading to the Belmont Stakes and his quest for racing immortality.
The one-time $11,000 yearling has now earned more than $2.6 million on the track for Reddam.