07/08/2012 3:16PM

Hollywood Park: Fans get chance to say goodbye to I’ll Have Another

Shigeki Kikkawa
Jockey Mario Gutierrez waves to the crowd as I'll Have Another is paraded Saturday at Hollywood Park.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – I’ll Have Another made his final public appearance Saturday before a small but appreciative crowd at Betfair Hollywood Park, just days before starting quarantine for stud duty in Japan.

In between the third and fourth races on the same program as the Hollywood Gold Cup, I’ll Have Another was walked in the paddock and paraded on the racetrack.

In the paddock, jockey Mario Gutierrez climbed aboard I’ll Have Another for the final time and then rode the 3-year-old onto the main track. I’ll Have Another’s final appearance on the racetrack was greeted with a warm reception by the ontrack crowd of just 6,434.

Gutierrez rode I’ll Have Another in front of the stands and then into the winner’s circle for a brief ceremony. Fans lined the trackside rail and balconies of the grandstand and clubhouse to get better views and their own pictures. At times, I’ll Have Another seemed a bit anxious, appearing to want to do more than just walk around.

“I’m going to miss him a lot,” Gutierrez said after he climbed off I’ll Have Another in the winner’s circle.

In early evening, owners Paul and Zillah Reddam, trainer Doug O’Neill, and their friends and family gathered at O’Neill’s stable on the backstretch to spend time with I’ll Have Another.

“It was kind of sad in a certain way,” Reddam said of the day. “In another way, he’ll leave to go to stud in a way that’s healthy and happy.”

I’ll Have Another is scheduled to begin quarantine Tuesday. He will be sent to Japan later this month or early in August.

I’ll Have Another won 5 of 7 starts and $2,693,600. Purchased for $35,000 as a 2-year-old in training, I’ll Have Another was unbeaten in four starts this year – the Robert Lewis Stakes in February, the Santa Anita Derby in April, and the first two legs of the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

He was scratched from the Belmont Stakes on June 9 the day before the race because of a tendon injury. Reddam said that he has not second-guessed the decision to retire I’ll Have Another because a comeback at the top level of racing from a tendon tear is far from a certainty.

“The horse had a small tear,” he said. “You can give them a year off, give them stem-cell therapy, and hope the fibers hold up. Sometimes, they hold up for a race or two.

“He wasn’t favored in any of the races he ran. In one sense, he was an overachiever for the length of his racing career. In the end, he wanted to beat you.”