I'll Have Another and Doug O'Neill
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I'll Have Another and Doug O'Neill
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Rick Samuels

Ceremony to Honor I'll Have Another Changed

Belmont Park cancels plan for now-retired 3-year-old to lead stakes post parade.

The New York Racing Association announced early June 9 that plans to have now-retired top 3-year-old I'll Have Another  lead the post parade for the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) were being canceled.

Paul Reddam’s son of Flower Alley was going for the coveted Triple Crown in the Belmont until he was scratched the day before the race due to a tendon injury. Instead of leading th post parade for the 144th Belmont, I'll Have Another will now be honored in a winner’s circle ceremony following the Woodford Reserve Manhattan (gr. I) on the day's under card.

In announcing the retirement of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner, Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill brought the colt in front of the assembled media horde. They noted that he was not lame and was able to walk fine, adding that the decision to scratch out of the Belmont was the result of scans showing the beginning of tendonitis. That would preclude him from being able to race 1 1/2 miles.

After being approached by NYRA officials, Reddam and O’Neill agreed to let I’ll Have Another be the horse that leads the Belmont starters in the post parade. Although Dr. Larry Bramlage, the on-call veterinarian for the Belmont Stakes, said there would be no concern about the colt’s physical ability to lead the post parade, the announcement was met with criticism. Some opined that with the large crowd expected for the Belmont, I’ll Have Another could become excited in anticipation of a race and affect the behavior of the Belmont starters.

Instead, I’ll Have Another’s grooms will lead him to the Belmont Park paddock shortly after the conclusion of the Manhattan (5:37 p.m. post), and then walk him to the winner’s circle where O’Neill will remove his saddle. The ceremony will occur at approximately 5:53 p.m. and will be shown live on NBC.

“We felt that this would be a fitting ceremonial retirement for an incredible racehorse,” said O’Neill. “There are many fans who traveled from near and far to see I’ll Have Another today, and we wanted to give them a chance to help us send him off to retirement.”

Among Belmont trainers, there was a diversity of opinion on the plan to have I’ll Have Another lead the post parade.

“If he was my horse, I would not do it,” said Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who has Optimizer  in the Belmont. “But I can see why they would want to do it since so many people came here to see him.”

“I don’t see how he (I’ll Have Another) will have any more effect on other horses if he is leading the post parade than if he was in the post parade, which he would have been before he was scratched,” said Dale Romans, who trains Belmont contender Dullahan. “It’s not an issue.”