Racing history was put on hold Friday as Triple Crown favorite I'll Have Another was scratched from Saturday's 144th running of the Belmont Stakes.
Calling the decision "disappointing," trainer Doug O’Neill said the colt developed a swollen tendon in his front left leg.
A veterinary scan after his morning run confirmed the injury.
"Obviously, he's done so much that it was unanimous between the Reddam and my brother and I to retire him," O'Neill said.
"I really thought he was going to run off tomorrow and really show something. We're all a bit shocked, but we have to do what's best for the horse," said I'll Have Another Owner J. Paul Reddam.
Leg injury aside, O'Neill says the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner is in good health and will be taking it easy for the next several months.
"Could he run and compete? Yes," he said. "Would it be in his best interests? No."
"It's a difficult injury for the horse to overcome in a short amount of time," said veterinarian Dr. Larry Bramlage. "It takes a long time to rehab him."
In a statement, New York Racing Association Chairman C. Steven Duncker said in part, "Although there will not be a Triple Crown coronation, we are still looking forward to what will be a terrific day of racing at Belmont Park.”
There hasn't been a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed did it in 1978.
About 120,000 people were expected to pack the racetrack Saturday to see if the 4-5 favorite could capture the elusive title. With no
"It's really a bummer, really a big disappointment," said racing analyst Mike Kane. "Everyone was anticipating a tremendous race."
That includes folks at the track on Friday, who were stunned when they heard the news.
"I was really hoping that we would have a bid for the Triple Crown," said one fan. "It's been so many years and horse racing needs that draw."
"As a long time racing fan it really takes a lot of wind out of our sails, without a doubt," said a second.
"It's a shame because he really would have won the Triple Crown," said a third. "He had a legit shot. It's a shame."
"I'll Have Another" is expected to head back home to California in a few days. After that he will likely spend his life on a farm in Kentucky where he will be put out to stud.
"I'm afraid history is gonna have to wait for another day," said Paul Reddam, I'll Have Another's owner.
Many fans did say they would still attend the race but with less enthusiasm than before.
If you are planning to head to the racetrack Saturday, there are some tips to keep in mind.
General admission tickets are available for $10; clubhouse admission costs $20.
Gates open at 8:15 a.m. and the first race is scheduled for 11:35 a.m.
The big race will be the 11th of the 13 scheduled races.
Post time is at 6:40 p.m.
The Long Island Rail Road is providing extra train service to Belmont but tickets will not be sold on board the trains.
Riders are urged to buy a round-trip ticket before getting on board.