Retirement Ceremony Today for ‘I’ll Have Another’

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I'll Have Another, works out with Lava Man (far right) at Belmont Park in Nassau County, New York, March 28, 2012. (Photo credit: NYRA)

From Richard Roth, CNN

ELMONT, New York (CNN) — I’ll Have Another, the injured colt who won’t have a chance to become horse racing’s 12th winner of the fabled Triple Crown, will retire from racing in high style on Saturday.

The horse, which won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness but developed tendonitis before the Belmont Stakes, will have a nationally televised retirement ceremony before the race begins this evening, New York racing officials said.

The New York Racing Association said I’ll Have Another won’t lead the post parade with jockey Mario Gutierrez, as had been previously planned.

Instead, I’ll Have Another’s grooms will walk him to the winner’s circle and trainer Doug O’Neill will remove his saddle. The ceremony is scheduled for 5:53 p.m.

“We felt that this would be a fitting ceremonial retirement for an incredible racehorse,” said O’Neill. “There are many fans who traveled from near and far to see I’ll Have Another today, and we wanted to give them a chance to help us send him off to retirement.”

The horse’s owner, J. Paul Reddam, announced Friday that I’ll Have Another would be retired with a tendon injury one day before he would have attempted to become racing’s 12th horse to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes, a triumph known as the Triple Crown.

In 1978, Affirmed was the last horse to win the Triple Crown. Since 1990, only seven horses have won the first two legs and if I’ll Have Another ran and won the Belmont it would have been horse racing’s first Triple Crown in 34 years.

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. Just 11 horses have won the prestigious honor, most recently in 1978, when Affirmed grabbed the title.

Only two other Derby and Preakness winners were unable to run in the final leg of the Triple Crown: Burgoo King in 1932 and Bold Venture in 1936.

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.

I’ll Have Another’s scratch leaves a field of 11 in which Dullahan, the third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, was the new morning-line favorite.

Dale Romans, Dullahan’s trainer, called the news “devastating.”

“I thought it was going to be one of the biggest races in history, and we wanted him to be a part of it,” Romans said.

The race will be at 6:30 p.m. ET at Belmont Park.

— CNN’s Lateef Mungin and Joe Sterling contributed to this report.

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