Kentucky Derby and
Preakness winner I’ll Have Another was withdrawn from Saturday’s 144th
running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes and retired, a little more
than 24 hours before his attempt to become the first horse in 34 years to win
the Triple Crown.
In a ceremonial tribute, jockey Mario Gutierrez will be aboard
I’ll Have Another as he leads the post parade for the Belmont Stakes
(post time 6:40 p.m., NBC 4:30-7 p.m.).
Trainer Doug O’Neill said I’ll Have Another had developed a
swelling in his left front tendon that was the beginning of tendonitis.
“This is extremely tough for all of us. It’s far from
tragic but it’s extremely disappointing,” said O’Neill, who
described the injury as a “freakish thing” during a 1 p.m. news
conference at Belmont
Park. “He has been
a little 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 … we prayed he kind of hit himself and
that it was a little bit of skin irritation. We did him up in a special
poultice, and this morning he looked great. We did just a little easy gallop
with him this morning. I thought he looked great on the track.
“Cooling out, you could tell the swelling was back,” he
said. “I talked with Mr. [J. Paul] Reddam and immediately we got Dr. [Jim]
Hunt over here. He scanned him and he said it was the start of tendonitis in
his [superficial] left front tendon and … you give him three to six
months and then start back with him. But obviously, he’s done so much, that
it was unanimous to retire him. It’s a bummer, but far from
O’Neill said I’ll Have Another would return to Hollywood Park either Sunday or Monday.
Only two other Derby
and Preakness winners were unable to run in the third and final leg of
racing’s Triple Crown – Burgoo King in 1932 and Bold Venture in
Eleven horses have won the Triple Crown, beginning with Sir Barton in
1919 and continuing with Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway
(1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), and Citation (1948).
In 1973, Secretariat brought the 25-year-long Triple Crown drought to
an end. He was joined later that decade by Seattle Slew, the first undefeated
Triple Crown winner, and Affirmed, who outdueled Alydar in 1978 to become the
most recent Triple Crown winner.
I’ll Have Another had been installed as the 4-5 morning-line
favorite over 11 other 3-year-olds in the Belmont.
Purchased by Reddam as a 2-year-old for $35,000 on the advice of
O’Neill’s brother, Dennis, I’ll Have Another was undefeated
in 2012, winning the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby
prior to his dramatic victories over favored Bodemeister in the Derby and Preakness.
Dullahan, the third-place finisher in the Derby
who had been the second choice for the Belmont,
was installed as the new 9-5 favorite.