I arrived at Belmont Park
today at 7:30am and you could feel the excitement for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.
There were television crews all over the apron in the clubhouse as horses were
going through their morning routines. Saturday was to be a historic day with
I'll Have Another attempting to be the 12th Triple Crown winner.
Then the rumors started to
appear on Twitter around 11:00am ET.
Shortly after, the press box started to buzz with the story that there was
some kind of news about I’ll Have Another.
Very quickly it became
clear that there was a problem with the horse. Then came the word that trainer
Doug O'Neill had appeared on Dan Patrick's radio show and announced that I'll
Have Another would be scratched from the Belmont Stakes.
The 1:00pm press
conference at the Belmont Stakes barn was a media crush. Photographers and TV
crews were packed 10 deep behind a 15-foot length of fence. It turns out there was going to be big
news in racing this weekend, but it was not the news we were all expecting.
Owner Paul Reddam began
the press conference by saying that I’ll Have Another was not only out of the
Belmont, but that he was being retired. “We want to thank everybody for coming out on
short notice, officially to tell you I’ll Have Another is retired. Doug will
come to the microphone and explain the injury that occurred as of this morning.
So I’m afraid history is going to have to wait for another day.”
was easy to see and hear the disappointment in the usually exuberant trainer
Doug O’Neill. “Yeah, this is extremely tough for all of us.
Though it's far from tragic, no one died or anything like that, but it's
extremely disappointing and I feel so sorry for the whole team. But it
has just been an incredible ride, an incredible run.”
Team O’Neill began having some concerns about I’ll
Have Another over the past few days. “He has been quiet the last few days of
galloping, but his legs have been great. Yesterday he galloped great, but
in the afternoon we noticed some loss of definition in his left front leg. This
morning he looked great; so I thanked the racing gods there. And we did
just a little easy gallop with him today. I thought he looked great on
the track. And then cooling out,
you could tell that swelling was back and at that point I didn't feel very
good. I talked to Mr. Reddam, and you know, immediately we got
Dr. Hunt over here and he said it was the start of tendonitis in his left
On one of the biggest days in racing we experienced
the ups and downs that are such a big part of racing. As a consolation those coming to the Belmont Park tomorrow
will still get to see I’ll Have Another as he and jockey Mario Gutierrez lead
the post parade for the third leg of the Triple Crown.