Sad, but true, “I’ll Have Another” has been scratched from today’s Belmont Stakes. Once again, this year fails to produce a Triple Crown winner, 34 years since the last one. Oh, it will still be an exciting race, to be sure. But it won’t be one for the History Books, at least not in this category. (Photo Credit: guardian.co.uk)
What is worse, though, is that “I’ll Have Another” will not race again:
[...] “It was a helluva run,” said owner J. Paul Reddam at a news conference shortly after the bombshell announcement. “I really thought he was going to run off tomorrow and really show something.
“He can’t compete at the top level,” Reddam added, “but he’s done enough.”
Trainer Doug O’Neill said the problem emerged after a preliminary trot on Friday morning.
“We took an easy gallop with him today,” O’Neill said. “He looked great on the track.”
But moments later, swelling that had occurred earlier this week returned. The horse’s doctor told the team it was the start of tendonitis. At that point, said O’Neill, “It was unanimous … to retire him.” [...] (Click here to read the rest.)
I appreciate, very much, the care and concern his trainer and owner demonstrated by making such a decision – putting the health of the horse ahead of any personal gain. It must have been hard, but certainly, it was the right one to make.
Still, a bit disappointing since he had been doing so well in his practice runs. Heck, he had already overcome a runaway horse almost slamming into him on the track when he was training last week. But if he was having recurring swelling, there really was nothing to be done for it but to let him go out on top. According to the NYRA Facebook page, “I’ll Have Another” will be leading the Post Parade. That will be a nice send off, though I am sure he will wonder why he isn’t running…
That said, I imagine “I’ll Have Another” will end up some place like Three Chimneys, home to many retired but breeding racehorses, like Big Brown, or Seattle Slew, or Smarty Jones:
Yep, that looks like a mighty nice life for a former racehorse, though I know it will take time for “I’ll Have Another” to adjust from no longer being on the racetrack. Still,t hey work hard with the recently retired race horses there to make their adjustment as painless as possible…
So, who will today’s winner be? Jockey Mike Smith’s mount, Paynter, a Bob Baffert-trained horse? Or maybe Dullahan, who had a good training run? Or will it be a long shot, like Ravello’s Boy? By 7:00pm, we will know the answer to that question.
But one question has already been answered: 2012 will not produce a Triple Crown winner. Oh well. There’s always next year!
UPDATE: H/t to Helenk for this article from NBC New York, which says that “I’ll Have Another” will NOT lead the Post Parade after all. He will have his final send off from the Winner’s Circle:
[...] The day’s highlight is likely to be when I’ll Have Another is led to the paddock and then walked to the winner’s circle before the Belmont is run at 6:40 p.m. EDT. O’Neill will then remove his saddle in a wistful farewell.
“We felt that this would be a fitting ceremonial retirement for an incredible racehorse,” O’Neill said. “There are many fans who traveled from near and far to see I’ll Have Another today, and we wanted to give them a chance to help us send him off to retirement.”
The colt won’t lead the Belmont horses to the starting gate with jockey Mario Gutierrez aboard as previously planned.
“He’ll be my hero forever,” Gutierrez said. “What I’ll Have Another did for me is so amazing. He brought happiness to my life.” [...] (Click here to read the rest.)
What a moving tribute that will be, and justly deserved…