Updated on 06/11/2012 1:40PM

Belmont Stakes 2012: Show goes on without I'll Have Another

Barbara D. Livingston
I'll Have Another, at Belmont on Wednesday, was scratched from the Belmont Stakes on Friday, leaving the race with a field of 11.

ELMONT, N.Y. – As they say on Broadway, the show, such as it is, must go on.

The scratch on Friday of I’ll Have Another from Saturday's 144th Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park, and his retirement from racing, has taken the Belmont from a potential Triple Crown bid to an anticlimax, an unsatisfying coda to what had been a compelling and controversial Triple Crown series.

There is still a field of 11, still well-known horses such as Dullahan and Union Rags, but the Triple Crown bid was what made this race of such great interest, and now that major element is gone.

The Triple Crown will remain unclaimed yet again. It has not been swept since Affirmed in 1978.

“Thirty-four years of it not happening. That’s a pretty strong statistic,” Doug O’Neill, the trainer of I’ll Have Another, said earlier this week. “You’ve got to stay injury free. You have to maintain your physique and your energy. That’s a huge hurdle.”

How true that turned out to be.

I’ll Have Another, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, would have been seeking to become the 12th Triple Crown winner in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont. He was an odds-on favorite on the morning lines set by Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form’s national handicapper, and Eric Donovan of Belmont Park.

Now, Watchmaker and Donovan have Dullahan favored at 9-5. Union Rags is the second choice of both – 5-2 on Watchmaker’s line, 3-1 on Donovan's. Both have Paynter the third choice. Watchmaker has him at 4-1, Donovan at 7-2.

Dullahan, who won the Blue Grass Stakes in April, finished third in the Derby, then skipped the Preakness to point for the Belmont.

“I love my horse. I think this is a really good colt,” said Dale Romans, who said it was “devastating” that I’ll Have Another was scratched.

Romans and Jerry Crawford, who heads the Donegal Racing partnership that owns Dullahan, disagreed over whether to run back in the Preakness. Romans wanted to, Crawford did not. Crawford won out, and both now agree that it turned out to be the right move.

“I think Dale agrees it all worked out for the best,” Crawford said.

Union Rags was a troubled seventh in the Derby, then also bypassed the Preakness. He won the Fountain of Youth Stakes earlier this year.

“I just hope, in this race, he gets a clear chance to run,” said Michael Matz, the trainer of Union Rags. “I’d like him to get a clear trip, so he can show what he can do.”

John Velazquez rides Union Rags, replacing Julien Leparoux.

[BELMONT STAKES: Past performances, video updates, contender profiles, odds]

Paynter was fourth in the Santa Anita Derby, then was second in the Derby Trial before winning a Pimlico allowance race in his last start. He is trained by Bob Baffert, whose Bodemeister was second to I’ll Have Another in the Derby and Preakness.

“He’s a serious colt," said Ahmed Zayat, who owns Paynter and is the majority owner of Bodemeister. "He’s very talented. Distance should not be an issue.

“He’s drawn in a nice post,” Zayat said, referring to post 9. “He may be on the lead.”

Street Life, third in the Peter Pan in his last start, is a late threat in the race, but trainer Chad Brown thinks he could be prominent early depending on the pace.

“It’ll probably be a lot different pace from the Peter Pan,” Brown said. “If the pace is a little slow, he’ll be a little closer.”

I’ll Have Another was drawn in post 11 of the original 12-horse field. The only horse who now moves in one post position is My Adonis, who is on the outside.

Post time for the Belmont is scheduled for 6:40 p.m Eastern; the first race is at 11:35 a.m. The Belmont will be shown live by NBC in a 2 1/2-hour telecast beginning at 4:30 p.m. NBC Sports Network has live Belmont programming from 3-4:30, and a post-race show from 7-7:30.

The forecast for Saturday, according to The Weather Channel, is for a high of 80 degrees, and a 30-percent chance of isolated thunderstorms.

I’ll Have Another’s camp, though confident in his chances, had been soberly realistic about the task of sweeping the Triple Crown.

“My own experience is that when we’re an overwhelming favorite, we always lose,” Paul Reddam, the owner of I’ll Have Another, said earlier this week.

“If you could put me in a time machine and go back four months, and say, 'You’re going to win the Derby, and you’ll have to take your chances in the Belmont, and you’re going to get crushed: Would you accept that?' Yes, I would take the refrigerator – the Derby.”

I’ll Have Another proved himself the best horse of this good group of 3-year-olds. He won the Robert Lewis and Santa Anita Derby in California, became the first horse to break from post 19 in the Derby and win, then ran the fastest race of his life to catch the talented Bodemeister in the Preakness, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 109.

But in the Belmont he was going to be asked to run for the third time in five weeks at his third racetrack. While he had trained satisfactorily this week, he was not as sharp nor as eager as he had been at Pimlico before the Preakness.

O’Neill sent I’ll Have Another to Belmont Park the day after the Preakness to get used to this sandy racetrack.

The setback Friday was the latest blow to O’Neill, who has had a tumultuous spring.

Since the Derby, he has been subjected to widespread scrutiny over his record, which includes sanctions for a handful of horses testing for excess amounts of total carbon dioxide (TCO2). He recently was given a 45-day suspension by the California Horse Racing Board for a TCO2 violation in August 2010 at Del Mar, his last transgression. That suspension is set to begin in July.

Since the Preakness, Belmont Park stewards refused to let O’Neill use a nasal strip on I’ll Have Another in the Belmont; he wore it in his four previous starts this year in three other states. And all the Belmont horses were required by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board to go into a detention barn, a decision that was not announced until after I’ll Have Another won the Preakness.

O’Neill has become a lightning rod through this Triple Crown, his record debated by both the informed and the uninformed. He has maintained his innocence of the charges against him, has not gotten defensive when questioned, and has adhered to all the requirements to which New York authorities have demanded, though he drew the line on Wednesday afternoon when security personnel at the detention barn told him he could not cook oats for I’ll Have Another.

After O’Neill on Wednesday afternoon threatened to pull the horse from the race, citing that I’ll Have Another needs cooked oats to guard against colic, the order was rescinded.

No matter what opinion one may have formed about O’Neill, I’ll Have Another won two important stakes in California earlier this year and passed all the required tests, won the Derby and passed all the required tests in Kentucky, and won the Preakness and passed all the required tests in Maryland.

Now, though, the focus of this Belmont turns to Dullahan and Union Rags, Paynter and Street Life.

But that’s not why a crowd of more than 100,000 was expected to attend this Belmont.

They were hoping to if I’ll Have Another could run his way into the history books, and join the likes of Sir Barton, Gallant Fox, Omaha, War Admiral, Whirlaway, Count Fleet, Assault, Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed and be called a Triple Crown winner.

That quest will begin anew with the 3-year-old crop of 2013.

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.

chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
HE"LL NEVER GET THE DISTANCE??? Now you saw Rags run...
Tom Gregory More than 1 year ago
only 2 scenarios - dullahan wins or paynter / dullahan exacta
Frank Altieri More than 1 year ago
Can someone please teach today's horsemen how to manage good racehorses? Because these guys suck.
Douglas Rutherford More than 1 year ago
Ill Have Another was managed very well . This Triple Crown was thought out for many months in advance . Many times - bad things just happen .
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
It hasn't happened in 80 years. I did not like the every day strong gallop at all.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Do the people at NBC get paid? I could have "watched" the Belmont show on the radio out on my boat.
Cover2 More than 1 year ago
Now what is Betfair gonna do, shot glass giveaway......should of been cookies anyway And NBC god forbid, will be 2& half hrs of romans & old lady, lukas & baffert, throw in matz & brown, all mr. excitements..........what ever happen to Craig Dollase & Reddam ? Soon forgotten bob b misses w/bode yum brds & blk ey susan....wins today w/ paynter dull & u rgs ex/tri..........alll box super.............................................bueno suertes
Paul_Tuon More than 1 year ago
I have a better idea: NBC should show replays of David Rudhisha's 800 meters race today where he demolished a world class competition and broke the previous track record of 1:43.2, with his record-breaking final time of 1:31.1, more than two seconds faster while winning the race by 12 meters. What an incredible performance by this superstar. You'll hear more from in London in about 7 weeks.
Paul_Tuon More than 1 year ago
I meant to say NBC should show replays of David Ridhish's 800m race again and again and again again for the entire telecast inliu of the Belmont Stakes. It is probably more excitng than show the Belmont Stakes itsels.
Paul_Tuon More than 1 year ago
My bad! I'm half-asleep!!! David Rudhisha's world record time of 1:41.1 (not 1:31.1)
Cover2 More than 1 year ago
Do anyone know LA Kings can wrap it esta noche ? Where's Jose Valdiva when need him ? Ruler Ice race ? Also the guys ex=motherin law that makes $79 an hour at home on internet ? When in dire need ?
James More than 1 year ago
Charlie M.D. More than 1 year ago
Reddam owned harness horses at cal expo. thats where he learned the drug trade.
Joe Davis More than 1 year ago
Question: Unstoppable U has 3 Belmont Stakes winners in his bloodline (sorry if that term is wrong) those horses being Seattle Slew, Thunder Gulch, and Point Given. Does this matter much when just handicapping a horse's bloodline? Thx, and forgive my being a horse racing fan four times a year.
TR More than 1 year ago
Basically no, because many horses have several Triple Crown winners in their bloodline, especially if you go back to Northern Dancer.
Joe Davis More than 1 year ago
Should have clarified that I meant the Belmont Stakes only as it is the 1 1/2 race.
Ace More than 1 year ago
You better believe it matters. When you are dealing with 1-1/2 miles, which is not a typical distance horses are bred for, the bloodline success becomes a mandatory consideration. Remember, 90% of 3 year old horses barely wake up mentally and physically until they are four, no matter how many races they are entered in. All of a sudden you may find a speed horse who kept fading at a mile opening up by 10 lengths to win 1-1/2 miles. You will also find big 1-1/8 to 1-1/4 closing horses fading to dead last at the longer distance of 1-1/2. It is all because a couple of the 3 year old horses may get it together and love the distance, completely changing the pacing scenarios. Horse racing is about fractions, pace calls are the most honest way to handicap, but are very difficult to translate from track to track and distance to distance. However, I am not sure I would go back as far as Seattle Slew, you also have to watch out for pedigrees of horses who have produced winners of the Belmont. I am looking for any horse with Grindstone, Summer Squall, A.P. Indy, Blushing Groom, etc. However, all of that becomes really difficult to predict also. If you are a fan of breeding, get a racing form and look at the Tomlinson number. It does not lie. However, it also does not guarantee the horse isn't a dud.
Kalar Walters More than 1 year ago
It's always fun for me to see the name "Thunder Gulch." I remember being at the OTB with my sister and her husband for that race. I knew diddly squat about the horses or racing but I pointed to his name on the race sheet and said "There's your winner." I wish I knew how to tap into that 'zone' at will. sigh....
Kalar Walters More than 1 year ago
Give some thought to the dams, too. Where do you think Secretariat got his stamina from? Somethingroyal was a daughter of Princequillo, a 1 3/4 mile record holder. Somethingroyal wasn't of particular note beyond being a fabulous broodmare. Her dam wasn't shabby on the track either, Imperatrice.
Booby More than 1 year ago
We now know what most have suspected, IHA had no chance of winning the Belmont. This is the best outcome for all involved and the sooner IHA and O'neill can be forgotten the better for horse racing. Those who love horse racing and care about the future of the sport should realize the huge mulligan they received and take advantage of it.
Jerry Sabo More than 1 year ago
A lot of negative comments from people who haven't been there. Are there cheats and thieves in horse racing. Yep, but just because you read something doesn't make it the whole story. Own a horse, train a horse, rub a horse and hot walk a horse for a living, then make you comments. If you haven't been there you don't know what your talking about.
Trollaciousness Mondatta More than 1 year ago
Maybe some of those making negative comments have been there, and know what they're talking about. What would you say to them?
Jerry Sabo More than 1 year ago
I agree with your comment on the a drug policy. They do need to clean it up. You lost your money on Big Brown because he had a quarter crack and they thought they mask it with who knows what. It was a black eye on the sport.
todd More than 1 year ago
If you're going to insult us non-industry workers, at least be accurate with Big Brown. Desormeaux pulled up because in his own words "I had no horse" which later it was discovered BB threw a shoe. Big Brown later went on to win the Haskell and the Monmouth. So much for the black eye. As for the quarter crack being healed or not, it wasn't going to stand in the way of IEAH and Dutrow running Big Brown since they acquired a dreamy financial opportunity with the UPS ad campaign.