I'll Have Another's bid to be the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years ended in heartbreak a day early when he was scratched from the Belmont Stakes because of tendinitis in his left front leg, his team said Friday.
The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner was the 4-5 favorite for Saturday's event on Long Island, but had to be pulled out because of the injury. Dullahan, who finished third in the Derby, was installed as the new 9-5 favorite for Belmont, race officials said.
"It's extremely disappointing and I feel so sorry for the whole team," said trainer Doug O'Neill.
O'Neill said the team noticed some "loss of definition in his left front leg" on Thursday and treated it with some poultice, but the swelling returned on Friday.
The injury turned out to be the start of tendinitis in I'll Have Another's left front tendon, O'Neill said.
The team made the decision to retire him from racing, he said.
The chestnut, modest-sized horse who was born on a farm in Versailles, Ky., made his debut last July 3, winning by three-quarters of a length at Hollywood Park. He had been purchased for $35,000 as a 2-year-old.
Owner J. Paul Reddam says he got his name based on the reply he would give his wife when she asked if he wanted more cookies.
Only two other horses competing for the Triple Crown were unable to run in the final leg -- Burgoo King in 1932 and Bold Venture in 1936. I'll Have Another was the 12th horse that would have competed for the honor.