UPDATE: reaking News, Friday 11:45 a.m.: Sporting News reports Triple Crown contender I'll Have Another has been scratched from Saturday’s race, according to trainer Doug O'Neill.
On the eve of the most important horse race of 2012, many eyes have turned toward Malverne resident Billy Turner.
Turner is well-known in the horse racing industry for having trained Seattle Slew, one of just 11 horses to have ever won the Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing.
Seattle Slew's impressive run came in 1977, when it became the only undefeated horse to win the Triple Crown.
One year later, Affirmed, duplicated Seattle Slew's performance in the three-race run. Since 1978, no horse has won horse racing's most prestigious accomplishment.
This year, 3-year-old colt I'll Have Another has already won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. The odds-on favorite to win Saturday's Belmont Stakes will be galloping for the sport's first Triple Crown in 34 years.
I'll Have Another's trainer, Doug O'Neill, recently reached out to Turner for his advice on the potential historical ride at the Belmont Stakes.
According to ESPN:
Doug O'Neill, trainer of I'll Have Another, sought out Turner this week to pick the veteran horseman's brain about All Things Belmont. The two sat outside Barn 9, where the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner is stabled, and talked for 40 minutes.
"He's an astute horseman," Turner told ESPN of the California-based O'Neill. "He asked the same questions I asked when I went to Kentucky [to run on] a track I didn't know."
"What a great man and cool guy," O'Neill said of Turner during an interview with the New York Racing Association. "[He] gave us a lot of helpful tips to how to prepare our guy for the big one."
The 72-year-old Turner trains six horses out of Barn 60 at Belmont Park, but currently trains ranks 4,607th among U.S. trainers, according to ESPN.
Despite his current ranking among trainers, Turner is the only living trainer with a Triple Crown to his name, which leaves him as the only person to give the advice O'Neill was seeking.
"He's a really good horse," Turner told The Washington Post of I'll Have Another. "He bounces out onto the track, ears up, with a swagger in his step. And he gallops a pretty darn good lick. ... I think he's going to run a really big race."
Turner will be watching closely from the stands of his second home at Belmont Saturday evening.
The race is scheduled to start at 6:35 p.m.