Exercise rider Jonny Garcia with I'll Have Another on Friday. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
ELMONT, N.Y. -- I'll Have Another is out of the Belmont Stakes, ending his bid to become the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years.
Trainer Doug O'Neill joined the Dan Patrick Show on Friday to break the news.
"I'll Have Another is officially out of the Belmont," said O'Neill of the chestnut colt trying to become the 12th Triple Crown winner and the first since Affirmed in 1978. "It's not tragic, but it's a huge disappointment."
Asked if I'll Have Another has raced his last race, O'Neill answered: "If I had to wager ... I would say yes."
"We scanned his left front leg, and he's got the start of tendinitis going on in his front leg," O'Neill told the show. "He's not 100 percent and we ain't taking any chances. ... I'm just so bummed for the horse, obviously, and then for the the whole team."
After losing the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga last September, I'll Have Another took the rest of the year off with shin problems. Then after winning the Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita, the had another two months off leading up to the Santa Anita Derby, which he won April 12, before then taking the Kentucky Derby and Preakness to set up the Triple Crown bid.
O'Neill said the immediate treatment would be "three months of a whole lot of nothing."
Dennis O'Neill, brother of trainer Doug O'Neill, told The Associated Press that the horse galloped Friday morning and after a veterinary scan, the left front tendon seemed "kind of tender."
He said: "The horse is sound and happy, but it's not worth it."
I'll Have Another was the 12th horse since Affirmed who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes but did not win the Belmont Stakes.
The colt, bought by J. Paul Reddam for $35,000 was considered to be worth about $6 million after the Preakness win. Only plunging breeding prices kept him from being more valuable.
Earlier this week, win or lose the Triple Crown, O'Neill said he was hopful I'll Have Another would continue to race after the Belmont Stakes instead of going straight into the big money world of breeding.
"One of the great things about I'll Have Another's owner, Mr. Paul Reddam, he's a huge fan of the game, and I know if I'll Have Another stays injury free Paul won't rush him into the breeding shed and breed him. I think one of the problems our industry has is that we have a hard time falling in love with horses because oftentimes once they get really good the temptation of the financial end of it is so strong that most of us have to take the money and retire him. But knowing Paul if the horse is right he'd much rather see the horse compete and I think be great for the game as I'll Have Another is gaining more and more fans. It would be nice to see him around for another year or two if the racing gods are looking over him."
They did not, and it's not the first time.
In 1999, Charismatic broke his leg coming into the turn for home. He was able to finish the race but finished third. In 2008 Big Brown did not finish the race after jockey Kent Desormeaux stopped him from running.I'll Have Another beat Bodemeister in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes when he ran him down twice in the chase for home. Bodemeister will not run in the Belmont. Dullahan and Union Rags are now considered the favorites for the Belmont. Dullahan was third in the Kentucky Derby and Union Rags, seventh. Neither ran in the Preakness Stakes.
I'll Have Another's Triple Crown bid had electrified the country. Hotel rooms were scarce here this weekend, and the track was expected to be packed.
The 144th Belmont Stakes will air live on 11Alive beginning at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.