By Richard Rosenblatt/The Associated Press
NEW YORK – I’ll Have Another’s bid for a Triple Crown ended with the shocking news that the colt was out of the Belmont Stakes because of a swollen left front tendon.
According to Dennis O’Neill, brother of trainer Doug O’Neill, the horse galloped Friday morning and after a veterinary scan, the tendon seemed “kind of tender.”
O’Neill told The Associated Press that, “the horse is sound and happy, but it’s not worth it.”
No one could immediately recall another instance when a Triple Crown contender pulled out the Belmont Stakes the day before the big race.
“It’s not tragic, but it’s a huge disappointment,” Doug O’Neill said on “The Dan Patrick Show.”
Asked if I’ll Have Another has raced his last race, O’Neill said: “If I had to wager . I would say yes.”
“It’s devastating. I thought this was going to be one of the greatest races in history, and I wanted the opportunity to be part of it,” said Dale Romans, trainer of second favorite Dullahan. “But this is bigger than that. This is terrible news.”
Last September, I’ll Have Another came out of a losing effort in the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga with shin problems and took the rest of the year off.
He returned to racing in February, and won the Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita, putting the colt firmly on the Triple Crown trail.
Doug O’Neill and owner J. Paul Reddam immediately gave I’ll Have Another two months off leading up to the Santa Anita Derby, which he won by a nose on April 12.
He followed with victories in the Kentucky Derby on May 5 and the Preakness two weeks later to set up a highly anticipated bid to become racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 34 years.