No triple crown this year, ‘I’ll Have Another’ scratched from Belmont
(CNN) — I’ll Have Another, the winner of this year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, is out of Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, a spokesman for the horse’s trainer said Friday.
Trainer Doug O’Neill announced on “The Dan Patrick Show,” a sports talk program, that the horse won’t be running because of a leg injury.
“He galloped great yesterday, and in the afternoon, he had a little bit of swelling in his left front leg. This morning, he looked perfect. I took him out, and I just did a little something with him.
“After training, that swelling came back. I had the vet come over. He scanned his left front leg. He’s got the start of tendonitis going on in that front leg, so he’s not 100%. And we ain’t taking any chances,” he said.
The 3-year-old colt and jockey Mario Gutierrez would have made a run for horse racing’s first Triple Crown in 34 years. Since 1990, only seven horses have won the first two legs of the title.
I’ll Have Another was “lightly raced” and competed in only two prep races leading up to the Derby. He competed in the shadow of Bodemeister, who was predicted to win the Kentucky Derby.
The horse’s only disappointing appearance was at Saratoga for the Hopeful Stakes in September.
“Pulling him out, it’s not tragic, but it’s a huge disappointment. (I’m) just so disappointed for the horse, obviously, and … the whole team,” O’Neill said.
The Belmont is considered to be the longest and most grueling of the three Triple Crown races. The horses run one complete lap over 1½ miles. The Derby is 1¼ miles, and the Preakness is 1 and 3/16 miles.
The Triple Crown did not acquire its name until Sir Barton won all three races in 1919. Only 11 horses have won the prestigious title, most recently in 1978, when Affirmed grabbed the title.
Three decades stand out as having multiple Triple Crown winners: the 1930s with three winners, the 1940s with four and the 1970s with three, most notably Secretariat in 1973.
Secretariat also set the world record in 1973, winning the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths and running the course in 2 minutes, 24 seconds.
Since the 1970s, a few horses have come close to winning the Triple Crown. In 2004, the largest crowd in New York Racing history, 120,139 people, attended the Belmont to see Smarty Jones attempt the 12th Triple Crown win. Smarty Jones finished second.
In 2003, favored Funny Cide finished third in his attempt. Most recently, Big Brown’s Triple Crown hopes were dashed in 2008.
The time leading up to the Belmont Stakes has not been without controversy. A workers strike at Belmont Park was averted this week.
The racetrack’s workers, who manage the grounds and put the horses in the gate, have been involved in a contract dispute with the New York Racing Association over wages and health care since 2010.
I’ll Have Another’s trainer will begin his 45-day suspension, handed down by the California horse-racing authorities, on July 1.
O’Neill was found responsible for high carbon dioxide levels in 2010 California Del Mar track racer Argenta’s blood. However, he was not found guilty of “intentional acts” or any sign that betting was skewed toward Argenta in the race.
Despite that, O’Neill was still able to participate in the Stakes this weekend.
The race will take place at approximately 6:30 p.m. ET at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York.