But let’s give him a hand for making the right decision in pulling I’ll Have Another from the Belmont, even if it meant forfeiting his page in the history books and bumming out an entire nation.
O’Neill has a spotty reputation, but from the information we have the moment, I think we can all agree that he’s acting in the best interest of the horse under his charge today. While not doing himself any favors, he prevented what could have been a devastating, game-changing tragedy.
We should know more after the 1 p.m. press conference [watch it live here], but it sounds like the injury was one that, under the charge of a less scrupulous trainer, might have been overlooked.
According to The Blood Horse, “…heat was discovered in one of I’ll Have Another’s legs the afternoon of June 7. Although [owner] Reddam added that the colt jogged fine on the morning of June 8, a subsequent scan after his trip to the track showed inflammation and the decision was made to scratch.”
There was a lot at stake, most notably a Triple Crown honor. But had they decided not to err on the side of caution, imagine the consequences, both for the horse and the sport at large, had I’ll Have Another broken down during the highest profile race in years.
We’ll keep you posted as further details emerge.
Go I’ll Have Another, and Go Doug O’Neill.
Update: I’ll Have Another was walked before the media during the press conference and his retirement was announced.