I’ll Have Another’s exit from the Belmont Stakes is a devastating blow to just about everyone involved, from the horse and his team, who stood to earn millions from a Triple Crown win, to the racing industry itself, which saw the event as an opportunity to revive interest in its beleaguered sport.
For three breathless weeks since I’ll Have Another won the Preakness, the nation buzzed with talk about the 3-year-old colt’s chances of winning the first Triple Crown since Affirmed did it in 1978. More than 100,000 fans were expected to turn out at Belmont Park on Saturday to watch. Millions more were expected to watch on NBC.
Now it’s just another race.
Attention will most certainly wane, along with racing supporters’ hopes that a Triple Crown triumph would clear the air — at least briefly — of a recent torrent of bad publicity: charges of illegal doping against I’ll Have Another’s trainer, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s seizing control over the scandal-plagued state racing association, a controversial proposal that could bring a casino to Belmont Park.
Many saw Saturday’s running not only as I’ll Have Another’s chance to shine, but also as a test of the sport’s ability to capture the nation’s imagination.
For a short while, it did.
Instead, I'll Have Another's career is over, and is likely headed to a stud farm in Kentucky, where his owner will sell breeding rights. Because he is a winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, he will command a high price. But not as high as if he'd completed the Triple Crown.
Fans, meanwhile, will return to discussing whether any horse will ever win the Triple Crown again.
And racing will begin searching for another savior.