It's unlikely anyone in Manchester was more disappointed by I’ll Have Another’s withdrawal from today’s Belmont Stakes than Matthew Gatsas.
A Manchester Memorial High graduate and nephew of Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, Matthew has been in the horseracing business for more than a decade. He is the acting president for Sovereign Stable Inc. a management company located on Market Street.
In the past 10 years, Matthew’s father, Mike, and uncle owned three champion thoroughbreds, Gander, Shadow Caster and Negligee.
Before Friday’s withdrawal, Matthew had a good feeling I’ll Have Another would follow up his Kentucky Derby and Preakness victories by conquering the 1-1/2-mile track in the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes in New York and becoming the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Triple Crown.
“When you compare I’ll Have Another to the two most recent near-Triple Crown winners, Smarty Jones (2004) and Big Brown (2008), there are two differences,” said Gatsas. “The first is I’ll Have Another has tactical speed, and by that it means no horse in the field should pull away from him. The second difference is, unlike Smarty Jones and Big Brown, I’ll Have Another was bred to run the 1 1/2-mile, maybe 2-mile races. That’s why I believe I’ll Have Another will win the Triple Crown.”
Gatsas had concerns before I’ll Have Another’s withdrew from the Belmont.
“To run three races in five weeks is a pretty big test for any horse,” said Gatsas. “The average is usually three races in eight weeks. That’s one reason why we probably haven’t had a Triple Crown winner for a long time.”
One of I’ll Have Another’s main competitors, according to Gatsas, would have been Dullahan, who finished third in the Kentucky Derby but skipped the Preakness. “He’s another horse that’s been bred to run a course this long. I think anyone who has second thoughts about I’ll Have Another will like Dullahan at the (betting) windows. Dullahan is certainly fresher than I’ll Have Another coming into this race.”
Gatsas said he was at Belmont Park to watch Smarty Jones and Big Brown make their quest for a Triple Crown.
“I was there during those years because I had some of my own horses there to watch,” he said. “That’s not the case now. This year I’ll be home to watch it.”
Unfortunately, he’ll be watching it without the chance to witness the winning of a Triple Crown.
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FOR DECADES, the 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) course at Manchester’s Derryfield Park has been one of the best-known high school cross-country layouts in the Northeast, if not the entire country. Runners from all over the nation have made the track over Derryfield’s hills, trails and fields in races ranging from the Manchester Invitational to the New England Interscholastic Championships.
Now, for the third time, runners of all ages can run the fabled course in the Lite Up the Nite for Mental Health 5K, a race sponsored by the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester.
This year’s race takes place on Thursday, June 21, at 6:30 p.m.
Now in its third season, the race will be staged on the high school cross country course at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Thursday, June 21 beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Race director Christine Montelione said all participants, individuals or teams, are encouraged to wear neon or bright colors.
“The neon theme of Lite Up the Nite was developed as a way to make the race a truly unique event,” said Montelione. “The bright colors have come to represent our catch-phrase this year, because mental wellness shouldn’t be something we only discuss in the dark. That captures the essence of our goal to reduce stigma around mental illness. The bright colors give the race a vibrant feel and help with the overall fun atmosphere of the run.”
Proceeds from the race will go toward the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester’s charitable care fund, which helps provide mental health services for clients who lack the resources to cover the cost of their care.
Montelione said Lite Up the Nite for Mental Health has raised money to help nearly 80 families and individuals in Greater Manchester. The race generated nearly $15,000 in the first two years.
“There is a 350-runner cap this year for the race,” said Montelione.”We’re hoping to sell out.”
T-shirts will go to the first 100 registrants, with registration is currently open to individuals and teams. Online registration will close on June 18.
For more information contact Montelione at 603-206-8567 or visit email@example.com.
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THERE ARE still openings for the annual Manchester Babe Ruth League Golf Tournament, set for Friday, June 22, at the Derryfield CC. The scramble format is $110 per golfer and includes greens fees, two carts per group, award prizes and a luncheon.
Prizes at all three hole-in-one holes include a new car. Hole sponsorships are available at $100 each. Contact league president Gary Ulbin at 860-2966 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
“City Sports” appears Saturdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader. John Habib may be reached at email@example.com.