The trainer made his surprising announcement on the Dan Patrick radio show, saying his horse, who outdueled Bodemeister to win both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, had a ankle injury
. There had been no indications from his most recent workouts that there was an issue and the horse's jockey, Mario Gutierrez is at Belmont and was scheduled to ride in the race card Friday to get a feel for the track.
O'Neill, who told Patrick that I'll Have Another was "officially out of the Belmont," was not able to say how the horse hurt his ankle but only that his left front tendon was sore. "It's not tragic, but it's a huge disappointment," he said. At a news conference later in the day, O'Neill said it was likely the colt's racing career would now be over.
Triple Crown: Horses who almost won
Last week a riderless horse on the track grazed I'll Have Another but reports
were the horse only made contact with his exercise rider, Jonny Garcia. The entire racing world was looking for the horse to become the first to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed pulled it off in 1978.
Others in recent history who won the first two legs but not the third are War Emblem (2002), Funny Cide (2003), Smarty Jones (2004) and Big Brown (2008).