Belmont Stakes favorite "I'll Have Another" will not be racing this weekend, ending the horse's chance of becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years. The horse suffered a leg injury and is now officially retired. NBC4's John Cadiz Klemack reports from Belmont Park for the NBC4 News a 5 p.m. on June 8, 2012.
Belmont Stakes favorite "I'll Have Another" will not be racing this weekend, ending the horse's chance of becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years.
The horse suffered a leg injury and is now officially retired, his trainer Doug O'Neill said at a Friday morning news conference.
"Could he run and compete? Yes," O'Neill said. "But would it be in his best interest? No."
O'Neill said he noticed swelling in the leg after a morning "jog around the track" training session.
"This morning, he looked great," O'Neill said. "Cooling out, you could tell that the swelling was back."
"It was the start of tendinitis in his left front tendon," O'Neill said. "We noticed some loss of definition in his left front leg."
The decision to scratch "I'll Have Another" from the Belmont Stakes was unanimous among team members, O'Neill said.
"It was far from tragic. No one died or anything like that, but it's extremely disappointing and I feel so sorry for the whole team who's had such an amazing run," O'Neill said.
In a ceremonial tribute, jockey Mario Gutierrez and "I'll Have Another" will lead the pre-race parade.
The horse, which is stabled at Santa Anita, won this year's Kentucky Derby and Preakness, and was the favorite to win Saturday.
"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."
On the horse's official Twitter account, the team thanked fans, saying "the goal was always the Kentucky Derby…"
A tweet posted shortly before 10:30 a.m. ended with a bittersweet hashtag: "#agoodrun."
Live Updates: Follow @JohnNBCLA, who is at the track in Belmont, N.Y., for the latest on this developing story.
J. Paul Reddam paid $35,000 in 2011 for the 2-year-old.
His name was inspired by Reddam's reply when his wife asks him if he wants more of her fresh-baked cookies.
During his next season, "I'll Have Another" won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 4, as a 43-to-1 odds outsider. Two months later, he won the Santa Anita Derby, beating the favorite Creative Cause by a nose.
"I'll Have Another" Hopefuls Given Chance to Claim Refund
Gamblers who have already made advance wagers on "I'll Have Another" in Saturday's Belmont Stakes will be able to cancel their bets immediately at any Belmont Park mutuel window with a live teller. A majority of tickets that are not canceled in advance will still be refundable once the Belmont Stakes is officially declared.
Individuals who placed bets on Pick 6 and Pick 4, in which "I'll Have Another" was used, will need to cancel their wagers in advance to avoid an automatic assignment of the post time favorite in place of "I'll Have Another." Pick 6 bets need to be canceled before race 6, and pick 4 wagers must be canceled before race 8. Late Pick 4 wagers that start with race 10 must be canceled before the race begins.
Still, the races will run as scheduled and all tickets are non-refundable. Follow live television coverage of the Belmont Stakes, which will start approximately 6:40 p.m. on NBC.