ELMONT, N.Y. — The world of thoroughbred racing abruptly received the shocking news late Friday morning that I’ll Have Another would be withdrawn from today’s Belmont Stakes because of tendinitis in his left foreleg.
The news turned a Belmont Stakes with Triple Crown possibilities into just another horse race.
Though unusual, the late withdrawal of a star from one of America’s classic races does not lack precedent.
Gen. Duke, expected to be favored in the 1957 Kentucky Derby, was withdrawn on the morning of the race with a deep bruise of the hoof.
Calumet Farm lost what was thought to be its main hope, but second-stringer Iron Liege filled in superbly, winning that Derby by a nose.
More recently, A.P. Indy experienced a similar problem in the final days before the 1992 Derby and, likewise, had to be withdrawn on the day of the race. Five weeks later, the colt was back in sharp form, winning that year’s Belmont easily. From there he went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic and earn Horse of the Year honors, before becoming a leading sire when retired to stud.
Triple Crowns have been waylaid by injury before, most prominently when Tim Tam suffered a shattered sesamoid bone somewhere in the upper stretch of the 1958 Belmont, after winning that year’s Derby and Preakness. In a magnificent show of courage, Tim Tam managed to finish second despite swerving repeatedly during the stretch run and was able to be saved for stud duty.
I’ll Have Another will return to California early next week and be let down slowly.
The breeding season is over for this year and there will be ample time to prepare him for his next career.
But before all that, another surprise has come along that will lend a bit of circus atmosphere to this Belmont.
It has been announced that I’ll Have Another will lead the parade to the post this afternoon.
Exactly what mental impression this will have on a very competitive colt remains to be seen.
Steering him away from the starting gate could prove difficult.
As for the elusive Triple Crown, racing fans will, as they have for more than a third of a century, have to wait for another year.