- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
I’ll Have Another commemorated in retirement ceremony before Belmont
ELMONT, N.Y. — It wasn’t the send-off anyone wanted for I’ll Have Another. Led in circles around the paddock and then to the winner’s circle at Belmont Park, the retired champion was cheered at every turn. This was a ceremony and one final chance to pay tribute to the horse who captured the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and was scratched from the Belmont Stakes with tendonitis in his left front leg.
Members of Team O'Neill who have been with the horse along the way walked arm in arm behind him. There were smiles but certainly plenty of mixed emotions about a bittersweet conclusion to this Triple Crown road. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” played over the speaker as this journey was coming to an end.
Jockey Mario Gutierrez was dressed in a shirt and tie instead of the purple and white silks that became such a familiar image in recent weeks as he got aboard I’ll Have Another one final time in the winner’s circle. With the crowd cheering and rain lightly falling, trainer Doug O’Neill removed his saddle and gave him a few pats on the back.
“Our dream was to unsaddle him a winner in the Belmont winner’s circle but that was a close second,” O’Neill said. “It was great. For us, for the whole team, it was just such a special moment.”
O’Neill’s children still wore the buttons “We Want Another” that were meant to commemorate the colt’s bid to be the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. But the decision was made Friday to retire him after a tendon injury that could have been exacerbated by racing in the Belmont.
“He’s had an incredible run. In any sport, you’ve got to stay injury-free. Unfortunately he came up with a slight injury,” O’Neill said. “Could we have run him? Yes. Would that have been the right move? No. I’m just proud of the whole team was unanimous in not running him.”
The original plan was to have Gutierrez and I’ll Have Another lead the post parade for the Belmont Stakes, but it was nixed in favor of the more sensible retirement ceremony before the race.
What’s next for I’ll Have Another is plenty of recovery time and then breeding next year. But owner Paul Reddam hadn’t finalized any stud plans as of Saturday.
“We’re just going to breathe and see what happens,” he said.
The ceremony was a chance for everyone around I’ll Have Another to catch a breath after an emotional Friday. To hear the crowd applauding his horse, O’Neill again allowed himself time to appreciate the road to that point.
“It’s so cool. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime heroic horse,” he said. “We love the horses, we love this extraordinary sport and just an honor to be part of it.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- WHYNO: Tomas Vokoun gets unexpected Stanley Cup shot with Penguins
- Brandon Meriweather, Redskins' secondary ready for bounceback year
- Kirk Cousins embraces role as Redskins' offseason starter as RG3 rehabs from injury
- Capitals notes: Realignment won't prompt roster remake
- Despite Caps' first-round playoff exit, Adam Oates' first season as coach left a positive taste
Latest Blog Entries
- Redskins injury updates (5/23): WR Pierre Garcon, CB Josh Wilson each had labrum surgery
- Capitals 'love' Matt Hendricks, but how much?
- Wojtek Wolski signs in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League
- Tom Poti won't return to Capitals, plans to continue his NHL career
- Is Tom Wilson ready to be a regular for Capitals?
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Six Senate seats could hinge on Keystone pipeline
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- 80 people publicly executed across North Korea for films, Bibles
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- SAUERBREY: Taxing Marylanders until they flee
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- Russias Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again