I'll Have Another will be retired to stud
By Bill Dwyre
June 8, 2012
BELMONT, N.Y. -- I'll Have Another, who captured the public's imagination as he headed toward becoming horse racing's first Triple Crown winner in 34 years, was scratched from the Belmont Stakes and will be retired to stud, his trainer, Doug O'Neill, said Friday.
I'll Have Another, winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, came up with tendinitis in his left front leg and will not race.
The horse had galloped Thursday and returned to the barn with heat in the area of his injury, O'Neill said, but responded well to treatment.
The trainer said he had always planned on a final gallop early Friday morning, which he did. The normal workout period for horses competing at the Belmont Stakes is 8 a.m., but O'Neill said he took I'll Have Another out at 5:30 a.m. because he wanted to avoid traffic on the track.
When I'll Have Another returned to the barn after his Friday gallop, he had inflammation in the same area, but again seemed to respond well in treatment, O'Neill said.
As a precaution, a veterinarian did a scan on the area, and it showed tendinitis, he said.
It typically takes a horse three to six months to recover from such an injury, but O'Neill and J. Paul Reddam, I'll Have Another's owner, they will retire the horse to stud.
"After all he has done, I think this is enough," O'Neill said.
I'll Have Another is set to return to Hollywood Park on Sunday or Monday. The next step will be to plan for his stud career, O'Neill and Reddam said.
Meanwhile, the Belmont Stakes is set to run on Saturday, with a lot less on the line.
"We'll be there and we'll be rooting," O'Neill said. "I won't tell you who we will be rooting for."
Reddam said he spoke to I'll Have Another's young jockey, Mario Gutierrez, to tell him and said "he reacted with sadness about the horse's condition. Then he asked if he could go home."
I’ll Have Another won two-thirds of the Triple Crown and will be valuable as a stallion.
Still, his scratch is one of the most momentous in racing history. Only two horses who won the Derby and Preakness — Burgoo King in 1932 and Bold Venture in 1936 — did not contest the Belmont, and that was well before the Triple Crown had achieved mainstream prominence.
O’Neill said: “It’s far from tragic, but it’s really disappointing.”
He added: “I’ve been hoping and praying he would stay injury-free and you know, it didn’t happen.”
O’Neill, as much as his horse, was the focus of scrutiny after the Derby win. He has compiled a lengthy record of drug violations involving his horses, and was recently suspended by California authorities for 45 days for the latest alleged violation. As a consequence, New York racing officials took extraordinary measures to safeguard against any real or perceived drug issue involving horses in the Belmont, creating a special barn to house the horses and conduct a strict monitoring program.
A spokesman for the New York State Racing and Wagering Board said that all 12 entrants in the Belmont Stakes were tested for prohibited substances Wednesday and that all the tests were negative.
O’Neill did not see the move to the barn as contributing to the injury. “It’s just a freakish thing,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill has insisted he is a clean trainer. He said he welcomed the intense monitoring. But almost inevitably, as soon as word of I’ll Have Another’s injury surfaced online, the wisecracks began, implying there might be an underlying or hidden drug issue involved.
Fair or not, O’Neill and the horse’s owner are likely to have to combat such suspicions going forward.
I’ll Have Another was undefeated in four starts this year, having won twice in California before pulling off a 15-1 upset in the Kentucky Derby. In the Preakness he determinedly wore down his rival and the Derby runner-up Bodemeister to win by a neck.