Trainer Doug O’Neill, assistant Jack
Sisterson and the rest of the I’ll Have
Another crew watched Saturday’s Belmont Stakes on television
in the barn office of trainer Mark Hennig.
Less than an hour before the race,
I’ll Have Another was given a ceremonial retirement in the paddock at
Belmont Park, a day after the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner was scratched
from the race with tendinitis in his left foreleg.
“It was a strange feeling,”
Sisterson said Sunday morning. “We finished parading him in the paddock
and were coming back, and you see everybody else getting ready to go [to the
track]. When we were coming back, [the horse] knew that, ‘Hey, this is
not right. I want to go race.’
“The guys took it really well. To
get this far … going into it, if somebody said you could win the Kentucky
Derby and the Preakness but not run in the Belmont, I think everybody would have taken
that. It’s been such a great journey. To work for somebody like Doug, who
gave us all the opportunity like this, is the chance of a lifetime. It really
I’ll Have Another was bidding to
become the first horse in 34 years to sweep the Triple Crown. Instead, he was
the first horse since 1936 to claim the first two legs and be unable to compete
in the third.
“He looked impressive this morning,
as always. He’s never once looked bad,” Sisterson said.
“It’s a bit of a bummer, especially the way the race shaped up. His
running style would have fit the race to a ‘T.’ All the credit to
Union Rags and Paynter, they ran a big race. The rest of them were just kind of
going up and down, and this guy would have tried to take advantage of that.
Mario [Gutierrez] is a great jock, and he would have judged the pace and would
have been right there, ready to press the button turning for home. That’s
horse racing. You’ve got to turn the page and keep moving forward.”
I’ll Have Another is scheduled to
leave New York at 8 a.m. Monday and head back
to O’Neill’s California
“We’re packing up and shipping
out,” Sisterson said. “Hopefully, we’ll be back.”