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Triple Crown Hopeful Suffers Career Ending Injury On Eve Of Race

Posted by Marco Sussman on 6/8/2012 5:11:26 PM

After suffering an unfortunate leg injury, I'll Have Another is out of the Belmont Stakes – and out of the running for the Triple Crown. There appears to be a problem with a swollen left-front tendon.

Trainer Doug O'Neill said the issue was first noticed in the leg on Thursday, but the hope was that it wouldn't be serious and the horse had “just hit himself.”

I'll Have Another was acting normally during a morning workout the next day, but in the cooling down period showed signs of swelling.

After summoning a doctor, it was determined I'll Have Another was showing signs of tendinitis in his left-front leg. The inflammation is a "one-bad-step injury," according to equine veterinarian Larry Bramlage, and doesn't indicate mistreatment or overuse of the animal.

"In the whole scale of tendon injuries, it's minor. In the scale of the Triple Crown, it's huge," Bramlage said.

According to the vet, the horse would need at least 3-6 months of rest before being able to compete again. O'Neill and owner Paul Reddam conferred and it was decided I'll Have Another would be retired.

"It's not tragic," O'Neill said in an interview, "but it's a huge disappointment. I'm just so bummed for the horse, obviously, and Mr. Reddam and the whole team, but we'll be back, hopefully next year, and try to do it again."

It was obvious Friday morning that something wasn't right. O'Neill took I'll Have Another to the track hours earlier than than he had been for the past three weeks. O'Neill then left Belmont quietly and Reddam was unavailable for comment. For a group that is normally friendly with the media, this signified something was amiss.

"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."

Rumors began to circulate that something was wrong with the horse by late Friday morning, and O'Neill confirmed the shocking news on The Dan Patrick Show that afternoon.
"Now," McPeek said of Saturday's race, "it's wide open."

Saturday's running of the Belmont Stakes was generating a lot of excitement, as I'll Have Another was very close to becoming the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown. I'll Have Another was never a favorite in any of his previous races, but the three-year-old horse was a 4/5 favorite to win the final leg of horse racing's most coveted prize. 

I'll Have Another is now the third Triple Crown aspirant to miss the Belmont Stakes due to injury. The others are Bold Venture in 1936 and Burgoo King in 1932.

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