Updated on 06/09/2012 7:29PM

I'll Have Another's team shows no bitterness

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Doug O'Neill leads I'll Have Another away from Friday's press conference announcing the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner's retirement.

ELMONT, N.Y. – On the day after, the connections of I’ll Have Another expressed gratitude for what they did achieve, not remorse for what they didn’t.

Trainer Doug O’Neill and jockey Mario Gutierrez were still somber and subdued Saturday, 24 hours after their Triple Crown dreams were dashed when I’ll Have Another was found to have a tendon injury that not only forced him out of the Belmont Stakes, but prompted owner J. Paul Reddam to retire the colt.

“It’s a little tough, a little sad, but the trainer and the owner are making the decision for the horse’s good,” Gutierrez said. “He’s the one that brought us here, so we try to take care of him. If it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t even be here.”

O’Neill, sounding a bit exhausted, said he felt more disappointed for his employees and staff than himself and said he hoped to be back on the Triple Crown trail as early as next year.

“I’ve been going through all kinds of different emotions,” O’Neill said in a phone interview. “But through the journey I gained a lot of confidence, and I’m hoping to be here every year – in there running against [Wayne] Lukas and [Bob] Baffert.”

Gutierrez still had some action at Belmont on Saturday, riding three mounts. He finished last aboard Last Cat in a maiden race; was third aboard Politicallycorrect in the Easy Goer Stakes; and eased Brian, a recent purchase by Reddam, to the finish in the Woody Stephens.

In between, Gutierrez met with the media in the Belmont Park winner’s circle about five hours and fifty feet from where he had hoped to be on Saturday.

Six weeks ago, few knew who Gutierrez was before put up two sensational rides on I’ll Have Another in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

“I’ll Have Another has done nothing but make my dreams come true,” Guiterrez said, wearing the red and white silks of Ken and Sarah Ramsey, the owners of Politicallycorrect. “It was an unbelievable journey this journey of the Triple Crown . . . I got the Kentucky Derby, I got the Preakness. Those are staying with me for the rest of my life and [I’m] just thankful to I’ll Have Another . . . .”

Gutierrez said he never allowed himself to think about winning the Triple Crown before it happened.

“I never thought about the Triple Crown,” Gutierrez said. “I take one race at a time. My head was focused on the Belmont Stakes. That’s all I was thinking of was the Belmont. If I got to race and win it, then I was going to take everything that came with it.”

Gutierrez said he was headed back to Southern California on Sunday and that he would ride be splitting time riding between there and Woodbine.

O’Neill was also headed back to California on Sunday. He told NBC's Bob Costas that he will contest the 45-day suspension handed him by the California Horse Racing Board for one of his horse’s having an excess level of total carbon dioxide.

– additional reporting by Jay Privman