"It is an occupational hazard," said Dr. Larry Bramlage, the on-call veterinarian for the American Association of Equine Practitioners and an orthopedic surgeon at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington.
Bramlage described it as a low-percentage injury but something that trainers monitor for regularly. He compared it to an ankle sprain in people.
"It is still a relatively minor injury," said Bramlage, who did not examine the horse himself but did consult with trainer Doug O’Neill’s veterinarian Dr. Jim Hunt. "This is a slow-healing injury; he could take a year to fully recover. Because he is a stallion prospect, that could hurt his value. If he was a gelding, he would have likely made a come-back."
O’Neill said during a 1 p.m. press conference that he noticed "some loss of definition" in I’ll Have Another’s left front leg on Thursday, June 7. The leg was treated and because the swelling disappeared, O’Neill decided to proceed with an easy gallop early in the morning. The Flower Alley colt had been regularly working or galloping at 8:30 a.m. when most of the other Belmont contenders went out. Because of the crowded conditions in the stakes barn, O’Neill said he decided to go out around 5:30 a.m. Friday and avoid the congestion.
After the gallop, he said he noticed the swelling had returned to the leg. O’Neill contacted Hunt who did an ultrasound scan of I’ll Have Another’s tendon and found indications of tendonitis.
"Could he run and compete? Yes," said O’Neill. "But would it be in his best interest? No."
I'll Have Another, out of the Arch mare Arch's Gal Edith, was retired with a record of 5-1-0 from seven starts and earnings of $2,693,600.