(NEW YORK) — Sports fans were shocked Friday as I’ll Have Another was scratched from the Belmont Stakes on the eve of his historic run for the triple crown.
Owner J. Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill said they have decided to retire the horse from racing after it was discovered Friday morning that the 3-year-old colt had the beginning of tendonitis in his left front tendon.
I’ll Have Another was physically capable of competing on Saturday, Reddam and O’Neill said, but it would not have been in the horse’s best interest.
“We have to do what’s best for the horse and if he can’t compete at the top level he’s done enough,” said Reddam during Friday’s press conference. “I’m afraid history is going to have to wait for another day.”
“It’s extremely disappointing and I feel so sorry for the whole team,” O’Neill said. “We’ve had such an amazing run.”
The horse’s withdrawal from the Belmont Stakes sucks much of the excitement out of the race which was expected to draw 100,000 people to the New York track and millions more to their TV sets. I’ll Have Another would have been competing to be the first thoroughbred in 34 years to capture the triple crown. Affirmed was the last horse to win it in 1978.
The news comes after a tumultuous week at Belmont where the race was almost cancelled because of a labor strike. A tentative deal ended the strike threat.
I’ll Have Another is scheduled to return home to California on Sunday or Monday.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Sandra Gonzalez, CNN
Seth Fiegerman, CNN
Eugene Scott, Suzanne Malveaux and Kevin Bohn, CNN