NEW YORK (97.1 The Ticket/AP) - There will be no Triple Crown winner in horse racing this year.
The winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, I’ll Have Another, has been scratched from Saturday’s Belmont Stakes due to a swollen left front tendon.
“It’s been an incredible ride, an incredible run,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “It’s a bummer. It’s not tragic, but it’s a huge disappointment.”
I’ll Have Another, who won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes with stirring stretch drives, was the 4-5 favorite to win the Belmont and become the 12th Triple Crown winner and first since Affirmed in 1978.
Eleven horses have won the first two jewels of the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978 but failed to win the Belmont Stakes. It was the first time since Bold Venture in 1936 that the Derby and Preakness winner didn’t run in the Belmont. Burgoo King skipped the race in 1932.
“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.
Locally, Ladd Biro, Director of Racing at Hazel Park Harness Raceway, said the mood at his track has been deflated following the news out of New York.
“Since I got back here to the track and heard the news, you know, I could see the atmosphere has already changes … the attitudes – everyone’s disappointed,” Biro said.
Still, Biro said the show must go on. Hazel Park will still throw a big Belmont Stakes bash, complete with barbecue and 14-piece big band.
“I think that everyone was hoping to see … something that hasn’t been done in 34 years. So, we’ll still have the festivities, but yes, it’s going to impact us,” he said.
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