Canadian-owned thoroughbred I'll Have Another won't ever race again due to a leg injury, meaning that the wait for another Triple Crown winner in horse racing will be at least one more year.
Trainer Doug O'Neill told a gathering of reporters in Belmont, N.Y., that a veterinarian confirmed early Friday that the horse had the start of tendinitis in the left front tendon, so won't be racing this weekend in the third leg of the Triple Crown.
O'Neill called it a "freakish" injury that wasn't related to a workload that included victories in the past six weeks in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, as well as training for the Triple Crown races.
"It's been an incredible ride, an incredible run," O'Neill said. "It's a bummer. It's not tragic, but it's a huge disappointment."
'It's not tragic, but it's a huge disappointment.' —Doug O'Neill, horse's trainer
The trainer and owner, J. Paul Reddam of Windsor, Ont., said they first noticed a loss of muscle definition in the leg on Thursday but hoped it wasn't anything serious.
O'Neill sent the horse out for a gallop in secrecy early Friday morning shortly after 5:30 a.m.
He said the decision was made to avoid congestion around the detention barn housing the 12 horses entered for the Belmont Stakes.
The colt jogged and then galloped around the 1½-mile oval accompanied by stable pony Lava Man.
"We have to do what's best for the horse," said Reddam. "If you can't compete at the top level, [then] he's done enough."
I'll Have Another came from behind for victory in both of the first two jewels.
Jockey from Vancouver
The chestnut horse had a chance to become the first since Affirmed in 1978 to win all three jewels of horse racing's Triple Crown. There have been 11 horses since who have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes but not the Belmont, the longest of the three races.
Reddam was born and raised in Windsor. He left for Southern California in 1979 and was a philosophy professor before earning a fortune in cash lending and mortgage refinancing.
The owner said he assumed the horse would head back to his Hollywood Park base in Inglewood, but that any talk of siring potential future champions would wait, as stud season has already passed for 2012.
The horse's jockey, Mario Gutierrez, also has a Canadian connection, having spent years racing out of Hastings Park in Vancouver.
Reddam said Gutierrez was "stunned" when relayed the news in a phone conversation, adding that the Mexican jockey had formed a tremendous bond with the horse.
Jockey and horse were only paired together shortly before February's Robert Lewis Stakes, at the suggestion of Reddam.
Reddam's father John wasn't available for comment Friday in Windsor.
The family was to watch the race from their Windsor home.
"It's obviously disappointing. It's a shame the horse didn't have a chance to win the crown," said Ron Reddam, uncle of J. Paul Reddam.
Affirmed was the third horse in six years to win the Triple Crown, and the 11th overall, but the wait for the next thoroughbred to complete the trio will be at least one more year.