ELMONT, NY (RNN) - I'll Have Another, the racehorse that won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, has been officially retired by his owner.
Owner J. Paul Reddam made the announcement at a news conference held outside the horse stables at Belmont Park. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner was scheduled to race in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday but suffers from tendinitis in his left front leg.
"We have to do what's best for the horse," Reddam said. "If he can't compete at the top level – he's done enough."
The trainer, Dennis O'Neill, brought the horse out and let him walk around. He did not appear to be limping, and Reddam said he probably could have run the race.
O'Neill said he discovered the injury to the 3-year-old colt Thursday. He described it as a "loss of definition in his leg."
"We prayed that he just hit himself and it was only a little bit of skin irritation," the trainer said.
He noted I'll Have Another seemed to run well Friday morning, but the swelling returned in the afternoon. A veterinarian confirmed the tendinitis in the superficial tendon of the leg.
"Obviously, he has done so much," O'Neill said of the colt. "Between the Reddams, my brother and I ... we decided to retire him. It is far from tragic, but it is disappointing."
He also said the unpopular "detention barns" the horses had to stay in had nothing to do with the injury.
Earlier Friday, O'Neill said on the Dan Patrick Show he hoped to be back racing next year with the colt. He told Patrick the horse looked OK, but had the beginnings of an injury.
No horse has won the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978. Dullahan is expected to be the favorite among the remaining horses in Saturday's race.
Although O'Neill has not been accused of any wrongdoing with respect to I'll Have Another, he was in the news most recently for questions about other horses being improperly medicated.
The trainer faces a 45-day suspension in California for an irregular blood test on his horse in a 2010 race.
O'Neill had two more violations in California and one in Illinois, along with other fines for excessive medication.
Improper medication is far from unusual among horse trainers. An Associated Press report found 10 of the 11 trainers at Belmont had at least one violation against them for not following medication regulations.
The Belmont would have been I'll Have Another's first time as the favorite in the Triple Crown series.
After winning on 15-1 odds at the Kentucky Derby last month, I'll Have Another beat 2-1 favorite Bodemeister in the Preakness as a 3-1.
Reddam purchased the 3-year-old colt last year for the relatively low price of $35,000. In comparison, 2011 Derby favorite Uncle Mo was purchased for $220,000.
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