Not this year.
Despite heavy anticipation that horse racing would have its first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, I'll Have Another is not running the Belmont Stakes on Saturday. During an interview on the "Dan Patrick Show" on Friday, trainer Doug O'Neill broke the news.
The surprise scratch is the result of an injury, with O'Neill telling the Dan Patrick Show that the horse "has the start of some tendonitis in the left front leg.” O'Neill went on to reveal that he doesn't expect the horse to race again.
"The horse is sound and happy, but it's not worth it," O'Neill would later tell The Associated Press.
The New York Racing Association quickly scheduled a press conference for 1 p.m. on Friday. During the press conference held at Belmont Park, it was announced that I'll Have Another is retired from racing.
Very early on Friday morning, O'Neill had worked out I'll Have Another, getting the chestnut colt out on the track at Belmont at 5:30 a.m., according to the New York Daily News.
"He is fit and ready to go and we are just trying to let him bring as much energy to the table tomorrow as possible," O'Neill told the News hours before announcing the scratch during a radio appearance, later adding, "We are ready to roll."
I'll Have Another is far from the first horse to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown before failing to finish it off. The scratch for I'll Have Another marks just the third time in the history of the Triple Crown that a horse has won the first two legs but not run the Belmont. During the 1930s, Burgo King and Bold Venture captured the Derby and the Preakness but did not start the Belmont.
Here are the alibis (or excuses) for some of the other notable horses that came close but never celebrated the feat.
The Calumet Farm bay colt finished second to Cavan by 5 1/2 lengths after running the final quarter-mile with a broken bone in his right front ankle.
A scrawny, unattractive little colt was poised to make another thrilling stretch run to victory, but when jockey Johnny Sellers asked for more, Carry Back "spit the bit" - a racing term meaning he simply didn't feel like running anymore. He finished seventh behind 65-1 long shot Sherluck.
The great jockey Bill Hartack was criticized by many for moving too late in the stretch in losing to Arts and Letters. It was Majestic Prince's first loss in 10 starts.
Considered a cinch to give racing its fourth Triple Crown winner in the 1970s, the Bid stepped on a safety pin in his stall the morning of the race. He finished third behind Coastal after young jockey Ron Franklin gunned Bid to the lead and the colt faded in the stretch.
After reeling in rival Free House with an eighth of a mile to go, Silver Charm was on his way to immortality. But with 75 yards to go, jockey Gary Stevens saw another horse out of the corner of his eye. It was Touch Gold, and Silver Charm didn't see him either until 10 jumps from the wire. By then, it was too late.
A year after trainer Bob Baffert had his heart broken by Silver Charm, another of his horses - Real Quiet - took a run at greatness. But jockey Kent Desormeaux was criticized for making his move too early, and by the time Real Quiet was a furlong from the finish at Belmont, he began staggering home. Victory Gallop, runner-up in the Derby and Preakness, was bearing down and the two hit the wire together. After several agonizing minutes, the photo went against Real Quiet.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas' Triple Crown quest ended with a quarter mile to go, when Charismatic fractured two bones in his left front leg but still finished third behind 29-1 long shot Lemon Drop Kid.
Baffert has had some tough luck chasing the Triple Crown and his front-running speedster was done in early - he stumbled out of the starting gate and finished eighth behind 70-1 long shot Sarava.
After fighting off strong challenges from Rock Hard Ten and Eddington along the backstretch, Smarty Jones and jockey Stewart Elliott opened a 3 1/2-length lead into the stretch. But the early duels proved to be Smarty's undoing. He tired in the stretch and was caught in the final 70 yards by 36-1 long shot Birdstone.
*Captions via AP