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I'll Have Another's trainer and owner discuss injury at news conference [Transcript]
Comments made by trainer Doug O'Neill and owner Paul Reddam on Friday, June 8, announcing I'll Have Another's injury and retirement one day before attempting to sweep the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes. Transcript provided by NYRA.
J. Paul Reddam, owner of I’ll Have Another: We want to thank everybody for coming out on short notice, officially to tell you I’ll Have Another is retired. You can see he’s in good shape. Doug will come to the microphone and explain the injury that occurred as of this morning. So I’m afraid history is going to have to wait for another day.
Doug O'Neill, trainer of I'll Have Another: Yeah, this is extremely tough for all of us. Though it's far from tragic, no one died or anything like that, but it's extremely disappointing and I feel so sorry for the whole team. We have had such an amazing run, you know, for me, taking three buses to go to Santa Anita at age ten to be here and try to make history.
Got to thank Paul and Zillah for making this possible. I've got to thank the team, too. A lot of them are back at the mansion, going to let them enjoy; I think they aren't enjoying the pool and tennis court today.
But Jonny who gets on him every day is just a great kid and Betto who came out here just in case we needed a backup, Inocencio who worked his butt off every day. Benjamin, who is grazing him right now. Savas, Leandro, and I know I'm missing guys, Thumper, Rio, Tyler Cerin, Marcos.
But it has just been an incredible ride, an incredible run. And I've taken so many notes, a lot of mental notes and I know we are going to be back here again. I know some people have asked if I thought the detention barn had anything to do with that. And absolutely not. Just a freakish thing.
He has been showing a little bit of you know, he has been quiet the last few days of galloping, but his legs have been great. Yesterday he galloped great, but in the afternoon we noticed some loss of definition in his left front leg to which, like every other owner and trainer we prayed he just kind of hit himself and it was just a little bit of skin irritation, we did him up in a special poultice.
This morning he looked great; so I thank the racing gods there. And we did just a little easy gallop with him today. I thought he looked great on the track.
And then cooling out, you could tell that swelling was back and at that point I didn't feel very good. I talked to Mr. Reddam, and you know, immediately we got Dr. Hunt over here and he asked and answered him and he said it was the start of tendonitis in his left front tendon; and you know, you give him three to six months and start back with him.
But obviously he's done so much that it was unanimous between the Reddams and my brother and I and everyone at the barn to retire him. And it is a bummer, but again, far from tragic, but it is very disappointing.
Reddam: I just want to thank Doug and his entire team for the great care they have given this horse. It was a hell of a run and I know they are all personally very disappointed, of course, that he didn't get to show his stuff for tomorrow, because we tried to be quiet.
But I really thought he was going to run off tomorrow and really show something. So we were all a bit shocked, but we have to do what's best for the horse and if he can't compete at the top level, you know, he's done enough, and Doug, thank you.
Q. Have you finalized stud plans yet?
Reddam: Stud season is over this year and the horse I assume is going back to Hollywood Park, being in friendly surroundings and, I guess we would be open to talking about that at some point here.
But it's not an emergency to talk about where he's going to stand or what he would stand for or this and that. We are just going to look, the races are going to go on today. The big race is tomorrow. Going to be there as a fan now, won't tell you who we are betting on. We'll take a few days to just let this play out.
Q. Which leg and which tendon the injury occurred to?
O'Neill: His left front. He had tendonitis in the left front, superficial tendon.
Q. What's the difference between tendonitis and a bowed tendon?
O'Neill: Well, a bowed tendon, you get a big old profile and it's an advanced tendon. So it's you actually have a large lesion in the core of the tendon. This is the beginning of a tendon.
Could he run and compete? Yes. But would it be in his best interests? No. And so yeah, we are not he would never get a bowed tendon.
Q. Are there any concerns that the schedule he's had over the last five weeks contributed in any way to this injury?
O'Neill: I'd say no. He's been doing great. Just a freak ish thing. I think when you have a human or an equine athlete, when you give 110 percent every time you step on the court or the track, you're suspect to injury. I've been hoping and praying he would stay injury free, and you know, it didn't happen.
But again, like Paul said, it's still going to be a great race tomorrow, and you know, we'll be there and rooting and hopefully a good, safe run. Hopefully whoever we pick wins.
Q. Do you know yet when he's going to be going back to California?
O'Neill: I think he was scheduled to go back Sunday or Monday, so that will be the same plan.
Q. Did you have any concerns for bringing him out this morning?
O'Neill: Well, if he didn't look 100 percent this morning, I wouldn't have. But you know, after yesterday afternoon, the intent was to take him out real early when it was quiet. And one of the negatives to this detention barn is that 8:30 everyone is heading out and you've got, you know, ten to 12 horses all trying to go to the track, all trying to be on the wash rack. It gets congested. I wanted a real quiet time with him.
He looked great this morning. He trained great. But when I saw the swelling come up after the training, then, you know, without, oh, yeah, go ahead, Paul.
Reddam: It should just be clear that yesterday afternoon before any of this came up, the decision was made that he was going to have an easy morning and come out early and stress free and just jog around the track for Saturday.
So it wasn't like he had an injury and Doug took him out for a test drive this morning. That was not the case. He had a little heat; it was gone. He was good this morning, probably because he was treated before the race on Thursday. It was just after that, Doug called and we just discussed, okay, we have this problem, should we look at it?
I said, well, if you look at it, and the vet comes over, he'll have a lot of attention, but what the heck, that's what's best for the horse so that's what he did. Just to be precautionary, he said we'll scan the tendon and it's a good thing he did scan it, because that's when he found the problem.
So the horse is not lame. He could have run tomorrow. You wouldn't have known a difference had he not looked at it. So Doug, through extreme caution about the horse, had the vet come over and scan him.
Q. What was Mario's reaction?
Reddam: Well, I called Mario this morning, just after I talked to Doug, and he was I think he was sort of stunned, because he really didn't say much at first, and I wasn't sure that he really understood what I was talking about.
Then when I explained: No, no, I'll Have Another, he's got to be retired, his immediate reaction was, "Well, should I just go home today?"
"No, you've got to ride."
So he was ... he was sad for the horse, really. He has just had a tremendous bonding with I'll Have Another, as everybody saw him on the track, and his concern was 100 percent for the welfare of the horse and he expressed in the end no disappointment for him not getting a chance to run the Belmont.
He's just glad that the horse is okay and, you know, his safety, along with the other riders' safety is paramount. So that's why the decision was made.
My Home State Would Not Like Me For My Opinion : But ( IF I WAS RUNNING THE TRIPLE CROWN SERIES ) The Belmont Stakes would be the Richest Purse of the 3 . Then , the Preakness would be the Next Richest of the 3 . And the Kentucky Derby would be the Least Richest of the TRIPLE CROWN .
So now they have retired I'll Have Another. I really think it is time for a change in the Triple Crown Schedule! He came out of the Derby and Preakness sound, but then developes Tendonitis in training? They could change the schedule, and ease the pressure on horse and connections by doing this: After the prep races, move the Derby Trial to "the First Sat. in May", then run The Derby "The Second Sat. in May". Then run the Preakness mid June, then run the Belmont mid July. Do not invite any horse who ran all three and/or the Bemont to the Haskell the last week of July. By the last week of August the Travers is open to all who are still sound? Something has got to give here, these horses are putting out to much too soon, whether it is schedule and/or breeding? A change is needed, and the sooner the better!
Why doesn't Doug O'Neil just drop I'll Have Another into a $2,000 claiming race at Los Alamitos and see if there are any takers? Ha-ha, Mr. gabmucs.
Jerry Rice always run with nasal strip on, it does not matter where he plays!
I was shock when loose horse brushed with IHA at the track, I was shock when Belmont officials announced no nasal strip allowed, I was shock the security told Doug that no cooked oats allowed and they changed their mind when Doug threaten to pull IHA out of the race, and further shock when the NYC order all Derby contenders must stay in the detention barn, and the detention facility was not ready until Wednesday! Sayonara NY! The owner and trainer of IHA did a class act to withdraw IHA from the Derby because he is not 100% healthy. I never bet on IHA but commend the owner and trainer decision!