NEW YORK (AP) — I’ll Have Another’s bid for a Triple Crown ended with the shocking news that the colt was out of the Belmont Stakes because of a swollen left front tendon.
According to Dennis O’Neill, brother of trainer Doug O’Neill, the horse galloped Friday morning and after a veterinary scan, the tendon seemed “kind of tender.”
O’Neill told The Associated Press that, “the horse is sound and happy, but it’s not worth it.”
No one could immediately recall another instance when a Triple Crown contender pulled out the Belmont Stakes the day before the big race.
“It’s not tragic, but it’s a huge disappointment,” Doug O’Neill said on “The Dan Patrick Show.”
Asked if I’ll Have Another has raced his last race, O’Neill said: “If I had to wager . I would say yes.”
“It’s devastating. I thought this was going to be one of the greatest races in history, and I wanted the opportunity to be part of it,” said Dale Romans, trainer of second favorite Dullahan. “But this is bigger than that. This is terrible news.”
Last September, I’ll Have Another came out of a losing effort in the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga with shin problems and took the rest of the year off.
He returned to racing in February, and won the Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita, putting the colt firmly on the Triple Crown trail.
Doug O’Neill and owner J. Paul Reddam immediately gave I’ll Have Another two months off leading up to the Santa Anita Derby, which he won by a nose on April 12.
He followed with victories in the Kentucky Derby on May 5 and the Preakness two weeks later to set up a highly anticipated bid to become racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 34 years.
Story from earlier:
NEW YORK (WFAN) — The elusive Triple Crown will have to wait at least one more year as I’ll Have Another will not race in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.
Trainer Doug O’Neill delivered the shocking news Friday on the Dan Patrick show.
“I’ll Have Another is officially out of the Belmont,” he said. “It’s not tragic, but it’s a huge disappointment.”
The colt was to race for the sport’s first Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont winner since Affirmed in 1978, but will instead join the long list of could-have-beens. The New York Racing Association has called a press conference for 1:00 p.m.
The horse may have to retire and will not compete again this year, O’Neill said.
“He has the start of some tendinitis in that front leg,” O’Neill revealed. “So he’s not 100 percent and we ain’t taking any chances.”
O’Neill sent I’ll Have Another out for an early 5:30 a.m. gallop Friday, and afterward declared the horse “fit and ready to go.”
“It’s been very hectic the last few days, so we thought we would take him out when it’s quieter,” the trainer said in a statement released by NYRA.
Rumors about the colt’s health started to swirl after his secretive appearance on the track. The field for the 144th Belmont Stakes, now whittled down to 11, will include Paynter, Dullahan and Street Life.
Watch I’ll Have Another gallop Friday morning:
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)