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Trainer Graham Motion has been there before, making the impossibly tough choice not to run a horse dealing with an injury. It was "devastating" for him to hear of I'll Have Another being scratched from the Belmont Stakes with a tendon injury that robbed fans of a Triple Crown bid.
The world was primed to see I'll Have Another turn the corner at Belmont Park on Saturday evening with the Triple Crown on the line. But as the other horses in the Belmont Stakes make that run, the colt who captured the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes will not be with them.
I'll Have Another's slow walk from the Belmont Stakes security barn to his old home in barn No. 9 was surreal. He looked ready to run for the Triple Crown, his hair was done up in style and he was the center of attention as has been the case since his victory in the Kentucky Derby.
Sullen faces and depressed looks weren't hard to find around Belmont Park on Friday. News of I'll Have Another's injury, the end of a historic run at the Triple Crown and his retirement had even those not associated with him upset.
Horse racing has long withstood the deaths of its skittish, injury-prone thoroughbreds. Hollywood proved it lacks the stomach for it.
"This becomes the practicality thing. It takes a while for this injury to heal, it takes almost a year. If he's going to come back and race, it's going to be a year," on-call veterinarian Dr. Larry Bramlage said. "Now you've got to give up next year's breeding season on the chance that he might make it back to the races and do really well for the year after that."
Bramlage explained that he wouldn't have been competing at 100 percent and the injury could have gotten worse.