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An Emotional Day for Racing and I’ll Have Another

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.”
It 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 front tendon.”
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.


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Older Comments about An Emotional Day for Racing and I’ll Have Another ...

Great stuff my friend! As sad as this was you documented it thoroughly, great pictures.
True Andy. It has been given out as tendinitis, but given the time that they were talking about a recovery in the months with a subsequent retirement leads me to believe that Icy is right and the injury is short step from a bowed tendon and more likely a high bow.
Very sad,I am sur ehe would have won, but to send him in the race and get him back brook down, no it was the right decission for IHA,maybe he give us a triple or more as a stallion!
That last part came out a bit garbled. It should read I really do give team O'Neill high marks for having the courage to scratch IHA rather than risk injury.
I really can't imagine how tough the decision was to scratch the horse with all the press, the excitement of a TC winner. I remember in 1969 Majestic Prince a big strapping chestnut son of Raise a Native was going for the TC. His trainer the great jockey Johnny Longden wanted to scratch the horse as he was not himself. Never quite sure if he was actually injured at this point or just plain exhausted. The owner overruled Longden and ran the horse. My father and I went to the Belmont that year to cheer MP on as Longden was the jockey on Count Fleet and he was my dads favorite horse. MP looked terrible in the walking ring. Thin, dull coat. Luckily he did not break down that day. My pressure to race was so great that day. Do I really give team O'neill high marks for having the courage to scratch IHA rather risk a severe injury
You can google the story and find it. It is about two short pages. Worth a read.
A NY Post columnist pointed out a very good short story by m.c. Heinz called death of a racehorse written in 1949 about Assault's full brother Air Lift. A good but sad read. I am glad IHA will not run. I really do not want to see another BArbaro or Ruffian
O'Neill has been under the microscope, he had to take the high road on this call.
I'm very proud and happy that owner and trainer put the dollar signs aside and took IHA's health and well being first! Bravo!! This shows true sportsmanship.
The tendon is not bowed. They said tendonitis, which is an irritation of the tendon and tendon area.
If it's a bowed tenden which I think is what they said racing put's to much pressure on the injury for it to ever heal. I had a very promising two year old filly (standardbred) out of Most Happy Fella and we ended up giving her to a young girl as a riding horse as she miscarried several times and we paid very good money for her, more than was paid for IHA.
I'm profoundly disappointed that another bid for the triple crown fell through. I'm happy that IHA is not seriously injured. I'm mad as hell that they are actually going to retire this talented colt at the age of 3. That is total nonsense and it's part of the reason the sport is slowly dying.

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