06/08/2012 3:02PM

Belmont Stakes 2012: Rival trainers react to I'll Have Another's scratch


ELMONT, N.Y. − While the defection of I’ll Have Another will certainly enhance their chances of winning Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, trainers Dale Romans, Michael Matz, and Ken McPeek all expressed sympathy for Doug O’Neill and the connections of the injured horse.

“I feel his pain, believe me. Everybody in racing does,” said Dale Romans, whose Dullahan becomes the probable favorite with I’ll Have Another out. “Obviously, it makes our job easier now because he was the horse to beat, but we really wanted the opportunity to compete with him. It’s devastating news for them, for us, and for racing.” 

Michael Matz, whose Union Rags figures to be the second choice in the Belmont, was attending graduation ceremonies in Maryland when news broke that I’ll Have Another was out of the race. Matz said he did not receive the news until early Friday afternoon.

“We have all had similar problems like that happen, but at a level like this it’s pretty devastating, especially after having won the first two legs of the Triple Crown,” he said. “Obviously, nobody likes to see a horse come out of a race like that. Just having him participating would have meant a lot for racing. You always hope, in races like this, the best horse wins. Whether he’s the best horse or not, we’ll never know now.”

Ken McPeek, who has two of the remaining 11 Belmont starters, Atigun and Unstoppable U, said there is no worse phone call a trainer has to make than the one O’Neill had to make to his owner, telling him his horse was injured and out of the race. 

“I’m sad for the connections, and I certainly don’t envy Doug having to make that phone call informing his owner what happened,” said McPeek, who won the 2002 Belmont with the 70-1 Sarava.

McPeek said I’ll Have Another’s untimely injury is just the type of unexpected circumstance that prompted him, in part, to enter his two 3-year-olds in the Belmont. Both are decided longshots.

“I was on the fence Tuesday morning whether to run Unstoppable U or not, but I mentioned to my assistant that I’ve seen so many weird things happen, you just never know in this business,” McPeek. “I’m really glad to have both of them in there now.” 

Todd Pletcher does not have a starter in this year’s Belmont, but he said he could empathize with O’Neill after having to scratch the heavily favored Uncle Mo the morning before last year’s Kentucky Derby.

“It’s a shame," he said. "I feel bad for the connections, and it’s also tough for the game, but that’s the world we live in. Every morning you come in and hold your breath 24 hours a day. I don’t know if you ever get numb to stuff like this. There are disappointments all the time, and then there are levels of disappointments, and I’ve got to say it doesn’t get any higher level than when you’re on the brink of immortality like they were. I really feel sorry for them.”  

2012 Belmont Stakes Field








Street Life

C. Brown

J. Lezcano




Unstoppable U

K. McPeek

J. Alvarado




Union Rags

M. Matz

J. Velazquez





K. McPeek

J. Leparoux





D. Romans

J. Castellano




Ravelo's Boy

M. Azpurua

A. Solis




Five Sixteen

D. Schettino

R. Napravnik




Guyana Star Dweej

D. Shivmangal

K. Desormeaux





B. Baffert

M. Smith





D. Lukas

C. Nakatani




I'll Have Another

D. O'Neill

M. Gutierrez




My Adonis

K. Breen

R. Dominguez



Television: NBC, 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.; NBC Sports Network, 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Patrick J R More than 1 year ago
The Vet's said you could run him if you want, but the Trainer decides to pull him? What! This is History in the making. The injury really isn't that bad. Slap some FLEXALL EXTRA STRENGTH on that leg and he would have been just fine. I smell something here!
Husteo More than 1 year ago
Shame on you!!!!!!
ronnie More than 1 year ago
ooooh ooh that smell ! CAN YOU SMELL THAT SMELL....its always the GODS getting the last call
Richard Michel More than 1 year ago
what a losser u had a chance to accomplish what few have ever done. yea there are bumps and bruises that is what makes a throuhbreed champion, you have cheated everyone of see history , you area difinetly a losser.
buddy More than 1 year ago
Fool, you're the loser (& a frighteningly poor speller).
AZ Wildcat More than 1 year ago
You just gotta love someone who can't make it a sentence without destroying the English language.
Jerry Ray More than 1 year ago
You are the only loser.I'm so glad that they put the horse first.You must not have finished school or had terrible teachers because you sure can't spell. You saw what happened to Majestic Prince.I remember Hartack telling them not to run and he was never beaten til then.
Max Power More than 1 year ago
Make the South proud, do continue kind sir!
robdybas More than 1 year ago
How could anyone agree or disagree with you when you write like someone with a terrible brain injury? Get a proof reader or go back to the third grade for god's sake.
robdybas More than 1 year ago
Max is right, you are the prototypical, white-trash southerner. Can't anyone at your cross-burning ceremonies take a quick peek at your posts before you hit reply?
Willian J. Brune More than 1 year ago
The news media had nothing to do with IWA's injury, but they are certainly responsible for creating an atmosphere that he was "larger than life." All these kudos are worthy for a colt that has WON the Triple, but not before. There are several others in there that are legitimate contenders to win. Look how the odds suddenly changed to reflect what I just said.
Phil D More than 1 year ago
What a shame for IHA, but the show must go on. Well now I'm going with Paynter to win because he'll get the lead and control an easy pace with little pressure. 2ND pick is union rags have a feeling will show a better account of himself. 3RD is Dullahan but synthetic runners on second time on dirt regress, 4th i like Five Sixteen only because his sire is invasor who won long in races, may use him for 3rd, I'm shoot'n for the stars on that one
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
You're not going to get better prices - the M/L are out and Union Rags, Dullahan and Paynter are now all 3-1 or less. They are the top three horses left in the race and at least two of them are more than likely to be in the money for exotic wagering. A stone cold long shot hitting the board is probably one of the only ways to make a good deal money in the exotics in the Belmont now.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
Total bulshit,it's about the futures triple crown bets at huge odds,
Sean Ali More than 1 year ago
...Yeeaah ! ...nuff said.
Edward Kelly More than 1 year ago
Yeah, Doug and O'neill and Reddam are willing to leave a hundred million on the table so they can save the casinos from paying out huge Futures payouts. IHA is worth 30-40 million at stud right now. If he won at Belmont it would have been 120-150 million. Get a clue dude.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
get real dude he may be worth about 20 million to the owner to oneill is only worth 10% of the prize money and maybe a bonus check,word out is the books stood to loose 30 mill,so its try and win without the drugs or heres a nice chunk of change and go home im not saying thats what happened.but would not put it past anyone,they fixed the world series once did they not?
Douglas Rutherford More than 1 year ago
As Of ( Friday 6 / 8 / 2012 ) 4 : 30 pm My Last Update Before My " Belmont Stakes " Pick and Wagers for Saturday morning .................................... ( 1 ) STREET LIFE : still has not impressed me much while arriving . Seems to be in good habits - just some-what not striking on the track . I would go as far as saying - out of the Superfecta ! ...................... ( 2 ) UNSTOPPABLE U : another colt that has not impressed me at all since arriving . Rather dull - out of the Superfecta ! .................... ( 3 ) UNION RAGS : I was some what surprised to see that this colt didnt take to the track as well as he did in his gallop over the Belmont track 1st time . I wasnt concerned about this colts looking washed out because tha is just this colts nature . Came back and hit his feed tub n water to perfection , so im not really too alarmed by this colts gallop . If ya go back to last years Champagne Stakes - the same thing happen . So all signs look rather Good to thi point "With No HicUps " to mention . MY MAIN CONTENDER ( By Far ) ! ............................... ( 4 ) ATIGUN : I have not been too keen on this colt during the early stages since arriving . All habits have stay normal which is a good sign . Since I H A being scratched , this colt could surprise in the Superfecta ! ........................ ( 5 ) DULLAHAN : I got to be very honest here - I am not too high on this colt at this time . Yes , this colt has looked the best of all since arriving . Has been super on and off the track . I happen to see afew signs Wednesday morning hat caught my attention , and I believed once arriving to the other stall for 72 hours may not help matters . Since this colt has Never won on dirt , and does not seem to have that will to win , AS OF NOW , I am not too sure about this colt . On the IFFY IFFY SIDE for my Trusting - I would use in Plays - but I would not consider this colt being a " KEY : horse by no means ! ................................ ( 6 ) RAVELOs BOY : I have relly liked the way this colt has looked , galloped here , and all habits are in the norm . I would use in a Superfecta ...................................... ( 7 ) FIVE SIXTEEN : toss out completely ! ......................... ( 8 ) GUYANA STAR DWEEJ : toss out completely ! ............................ ( 9 ) PAYNTER : as of the early stages since arriving , to me this colt hasnt impressed me . Being a Bafert colt , I expected to see more . But once I viewed UNION RAGS , then I Questioned myself thinking maybe this colt is better than as seen 1st time on the track . Over the last few days , signs have been improving , along with habits . So maybe with I H A out , maybe a Superfecta play ! ............................. ( 10 ) OPTIMIZER : toss out completely , sorry Lukas and fans ! ............................. ( 11 ) ILL HAVE ANOTHER : SCRATCH XXXXX I did actually see this coming in many of my comments ( WARNING SIGNS ) ! ............................. ( 12 ) MY ADONIS : this was a bright move late for the connections , actually could steal a spot in the Superfecta ! ................................................
Chris More than 1 year ago
Thanks Douglas for the update. Your work is Well appreciated
Ray Idec More than 1 year ago
Now bettors will get a better price and i'll have another will make millions in his love life
jack brandt More than 1 year ago
Bettors will get a better price? Are you really that challenged in math? When an overbet horse who was going to get 40-50% of the money leaves the pool, all the prices for bettors get incredibly WORSE. Take half the money from a pool, and a 4-1 shot becomes 3-2. I don't know about you, but most bettors want to get MORE money back from a bet, not less.
Douglas Rutherford More than 1 year ago
This reminds me of going to the DAYTONA 500 every year . You just know the big ones coming - " When it comes to the Triple Crown " - ya just dont know when nor how . This does get rather Sad each time ! But its all part of the Business . My heart goes out to the O'Neill Racing Stable - and to the Millions around the world that ( Believed ) . There is no healing for this type of situation . Time is all we have - so we just move on : and remember the Good Moments . One Thing Is For ( CERTAIN ) ILL HAVE ANOTHER " Has Already Wrapped Up " 2012 3 YR OLD COLT HORSE OF THE YEAR .................................. Trust Me ! I would bet my house on it .
Sean Ali More than 1 year ago
Here we go,... the shrine construction of the immortal IHA is underway ! Wonder if they'll build it right next to Barbaro's ?
robert More than 1 year ago
Why are you being so hasty making your prediction for not just one but two categories. As far as I know there is still more than half a year to go in racing. Anyone else could emerge later in the year ala Bernardini and Invasor. So keep that in mind.