05/31/2012 4:32PM

Belmont Stakes notes: Close call for I'll Have Another; Alpha out

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ELMONT, N.Y. - The Belmont Stakes lost one starter on Thursday morning. Then it nearly lost its star.

Alpha, one of four graded stakes winners in the prospective field for the Belmont Stakes was withdrawn from consideration because of a fever, according to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

Meanwhile, the race could have lost its marquee player - Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another - when the 3-year-old filly Isleta, trained by Carl Domino, dumped her rider and got loose shortly after I'll Have Another came on the track for training around 8:45 a.m.

A riderless Isleta, a maiden 3-year-old filly bred and co-owned by the Steinbrenner family's Kinsman Stable, came roaring up alongside I'll Have Another, who was being ponied by Lava Man midway on the clubhouse turn. O'Neill said Isleta grazed exercise rider Jonny Garcia's boot, but did not come in contact with I'll Have Another.

O'Neill said the fact that I'll Have Another stayed straight and did not turn perpendicular to the rail, prevented him from getting hit and possibly injured.

Barbara D. Livingston
Exercise rider Jonny Garcia notices 3-year-old filly Isleta running loose on the main track where I'll Have Another was training Thursday morning, accompanied by Lava Man.

[BELMONT STAKES: Video updates, expected field, early odds]

"I'm still a little twisted by it," O'Neill said holding his stomach about an hour after the incident. "I can't think about it. If I had never seen one of those moments before I would be, 'Oh those never happen,' but I've seen accidents like that happen and they're ugly."

After running past I'll Have Another, Isleta continued on for one full lap around the Belmont main track and even got out of the gap and onto the training track. Domino reported that neither Isleta nor her exercise rider was injured.

Meanwhile I'll Have Another galloped another strong mile, getting the last three furlongs of it in 39.67 seconds, according to Daily Racing Form.

[I’LL HAVE ANOTHER: Derby, Preakness winner runs for Triple Crown]

The incident involving the loose horse prompted O'Neill to contact New York Racing Association officials to see if they would set aside a designated time for Belmont Stakes horses to train, a similar protocol as Churchill Downs employs for Kentucky Derby and Oaks horses.

P.J. Campo, NYRA's vice-president/director of racing, announced early Thursday afternoon that Belmont horses would have the track to themselves - if they want it - from 8:30 to 8:45. This means the renovation break has been moved up by 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, Campo was also working on creating a detention barn solely for the Belmont Stakes runners as mandated on Wednesday by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. With a full barn area, Campo got cooperation from trainer Bill Badgett, who will move the horses he has stabled in Barn 2 to other open stalls at the track or elsewhere. While the state has mandated that all horses must be in the same barn -- with round the clock security as well as other precautions -- by noon Wednesday, the barn will open on Tuesday, Campo said.

"We'll fulfill the obligation we have to fulfill, they're the regulator, that's what they want us to do, so we're going to do it to the fullest of our capability," said Campo, who said he wasn't notified about the request until Wednesday.

During his daily press conference, O'Neill said Thursday he doesn't mind having to move a detention barn, he just wish it could have been done sooner to give his horse more time to acclimate.

"I wish we could go over there today," O'Neill said Thursday morning. "It sounded like it was not a real organized thing, kind of a late decision. In hindsight I wish they could have decided that earlier and we all could have been settled into the detention barn, but that's okay. It's inconvenient for the horse and the  staff. This horse is so just unbelievable, you could change stalls everyday between now and the Belmont and he's going to be just fine."

Dale Romans, the trainer of Kentucky Derby third-place finisher Dulluhan, was upset about having to move to the detention barn.

"They're basically saying we're all a bunch of crooks and they're gonna make sure we're not gonna do anything illegal," Romans said. "These decisions are made by people who probably never stepped foot on the backside."

In other Belmont news, Optimizer, the sixth-place finisher in the Preakness, worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 Thursday morning at Churchill Downs.

Working by himself with Jon Court up, Optimizer was timed by Churchill clockers in splits of 13.20 seconds, 25.60, 37.40, 48.60, and caught him galloping out in 1:14.20.

Lukas told Churchill officials he plans to ship Optimizer and four or five others to New York on Tuesday.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At least Gov. Cuomo has the stones to address some of the problems facing the racing industry.....We all should support any short term inconviences which will lead to long term public support of our sport.....And please remember, at the end of the day, it is all about the health and well being of the magnificent horses.....
Debi Gerbasi More than 1 year ago
Sounds to me as though the trainers/ owners/jockeys don't so much have a problem with the detention barn, but the timing of this requirement. Security a problem... Not so much, just take a look at the death of the horse a day befor it was to race at Balmoral. As to the use of Lasix, if you have ever seen a horse bleeding and trying to breathe without it, you would know just how cruel not having access to this medication is. All I ask is that there be a safe set of rules .... Someone with a knowledge of these beautiful creatures to monitor a the rules, and leave the BS out of it. ........I'm just say'in.......
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Forget worrying about what the trainers might do. Start testing these NY officals for drugs and also they need an IQ test. One of the most stupid rulings was the nazal strip ban. Looks to me they want no TC winner this year while they still will get record attendance, and handle for this event. They don't deserve it.
jeffries Will More than 1 year ago
ny should be banned from having racing period. keep up the good work. i live 10 mins from both belmont and aquedump and almost always bet anywhere else
Peter More than 1 year ago
Those powers that be can and will at some point outlaw "lasix" and other useful medications ,now legal. These medications, when properly used and not abussed will only allow the Horse to reach its inherent potential not take ANY horse Beyond its inherent potential. THE BLOOD BLOWN OUT OF A BLEEDERS NOSTRIL WILL NOT ONLY BE ON THE HANDS OF THOSE POWERS THAT BE, IT WILL ALSO BE ON THE RIDERS PANTS AND THE GROOMS HEART.The powers that be should catch a hot horse someday, then maybe they will standardise and monitor a "nation wide single set of rules".A total ban will hurt the horse the most. PSS b....s..t, the fix has never been on
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
sounds like you have a grip on the horses and the rules here peter. the problem is i believe that most bloggers do not..... not to mention the media....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Trainers, jockeys and horse should be keep in the detention barn, "WITH NO PHONE AVAILABLE AND A CODE OF SILENCE!."
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
NYRA keeps screwing people around and you'll see this "Third Leg" run at Hollywood Park.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
the jockey too should be in a detention barn
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
honestly the trainers should shut up,everytime anything is done to weed out the cheating they object to it,evryting is an inconviniece to the them and theyr horses,ban race day lasix no no no every horse would bleed to death,ban the over use of bute no no that would be detremental we would not be able to train or run horses,have horse in a detention barn prior to races no no no its upsetting the horses and our routine,yet they ship all over the country into stange barns last minute and win all the time i guess its the added security and being watched and possibly searched that they object to,trainer dale romans comments that by trying to keep the game clean the nyrwb is basically calling them all crooks is an example of how trainers fight every attempt to clean up the game,i wonder how many positives mr romans and the other trainers in the race have collectively and individually,ill bet its a big number,it speaks volumes that they will scratch out and boycot races and meetings were an effort is made to curtail raceday and pre race medication.
Norman Albanese More than 1 year ago
Lucas wants to stay in the party with no shot of winning. Optimizer is crying for a turf race. Hopefully after the Belmont Lukas will get a brain storm and turf him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
IMHO Lucas is the worst abuser of horses, and the SPCA should get after him. how many young horses has he ruined ? I think Baffert is almost as bad since Lucas would have run Bodemister in the Belmont where for once Baffert gave a horse a break. Of course I think he did not want to see IHA blow by him again.
George Sudduth More than 1 year ago
hmmmmmmmmmmmm I think I'll play him since he still has a key race due........that is in 2nd and third : IHA, w/ OPT/DUL/ w/ OPT DUL w/ Street L