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Retirement ceremony for I'll Have Another before Belmont
Before Saturday's 144th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes, the 31st horse to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness will have a ceremonial retirement in the Belmont Park winner's circle.
On Friday, owner J. Paul Reddam announced that I'll Have Another would be retired with a tendon injury one day before he would have attempted to become racing's 12th Triple Crown winner.
On Saturday, I'll Have Another's grooms will lead him to the paddock shortly after the conclusion of the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap, and then walk him to the winner's circle where trainer Doug O'Neill will remove his saddle. The ceremony will occur at approximately 5:53 p.m. (EDT) and will be shown live on NBC.
"We felt that this would be a fitting ceremonial retirement for an incredible racehorse," O'Neill said. "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."
The chestnut son of Flower Alley retired with $2,693,600 in earnings, winning all four of his starts as a three-year-old -- the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis, Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, and Grade 1 Preakness.
He will not lead the post parade with Mario Gutierrez, as had been previously planned.
At the ceremony, O'Neill made the following comment:
"He's had an incredible run. In any sport you have to stay injury free. Unfortunately he came up with a slight injury. Could we have run him? Yes. But would that have been the right move? No. I was proud of the whole team. It was unanimous in not running him. It's been such an unbelievable run. He's a once in a lifetime horse. We're just focused on all the great part of this journey he took us through."