If you don’t believe in the Horse Racing Triple Crown Gods yet, you better now as Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another has been withdraw from the 2012 Belmont Stakes, and retired, due to a tendon injury in his right front leg.
According to owner Paul Reddam heat was discovered in the leg of I’ll Have Another Thursday afternoon. Albeit Reddam added that the colt jogged fine Friday morning, a subsequent scan after his trip to the track showed inflammation and the decision was made to scratch him the from the Belmont.
Trainer Doug O’Neill took I’ll Have Another to the track for his morning jog on Friday hours earlier than he had been going for the past three weeks, (5:30 am instead of his normal routine of going out at 8:30 am) so he could access the problem and how the horse was reacting to it. Evidently, it did not go well.
“I’m afraid that history is going to have to wait for another day,” Reddam said as O’Neill walked the colt in front of media members. “You can see he is in good shape.”
“This is tough for all of us,” O’Neill said. “It is 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.”
O’Neill said the colt could be returned to competition after three to six months while the injury healed, but that the connections decided to go ahead and retire him. Reddam said a decision will be made later on where he retires to stud and that I’ll Have Another will be shipped to his Hollywood Park base in California either Saturday or Sunday.
O’Neill said I’ll Have Another had “done so much that it was unanimous between the Reddams and my brother (and advisor) and I and everyone at the barn to retire him.”
“I was watching him this morning,” said trainer Ken McPeek, who has two horses in Saturday’s race Unstoppable U and Atigun. “I wanted to see what his energy level was like, his aura, and the screen [on his stall] was closed. I thought, ‘What’s that about?’ There was people in there. It was a little unusual.”
Saturday’s Belmont Stakes were highly anticipated, as I’ll Have Another was on the threshold of becoming the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Triple Crown. He was listed as the 4/5 favorite to win the final leg of the horse racing’s most elusive prize.
“It’s too bad,” said McPeek. “It’s a hard thing. I feel really bad for the connections. I feel terrible for them”.
“Now,” McPeek said of Saturday’s race, “it’s wide open.”