Haskin's Belmont Report: Leftovers

We won’t even begin to express our disappointment and disgust over the scratch of I’ll Have Another. All we will do for now is kill the paragraphs already written and leave the leftovers. This is what is left of the Belmont Stakes.

Dullahan’s last work was the standout, only because it totally fooled us and everyone else. It looked as if he were actually working too slow, pretty much loping along, and then came the shock when he was clocked in :45 4/5 for the half, out five-eighths in :58 4/5. He has since galloped strongly every day and has been sharp and on his toes. One morning, the rider tried to get him to stand by the finish line before breaking off into his gallop, but he wanted no part of that and began to buck and jump around until he was allowed to get going.

Paynter never made a huge impression in his gallops, but they did improve each day, so he looks as if he’s coming around at the right time. We did like his seven-furlong work in 1:25 flat in company, even though he was being pushed along late. He is lightly raced and inexperienced and has been asked to do a lot in a short period of time in order to get here. He looks like a horse who needs to be pushed along in race mode, so he can get enough out of his works and put sufficient bottom under him. He did gallop out strongly a mile in 1:38, so all in all, we felt that was a very useful work and will help him stretch out to a mile and a half.

Union Rags didn’t arrive until Wednesday, so he was out only Thursday and Friday. On Thursday, he didn’t seem as comfortable as you would like and sweated up badly, even for him. But he made a complete turnaround on Friday, even though the temperatures were warmer. His gallop was much stronger and much smoother, and, surprisingly, he barely raised a sweat going by and was still pretty dry coming off the track. That is something you love to see; a horse making significant improvement from the first day to the second day. Although one would love to have seen him on the track more, he did win the Champagne Stakes over it last fall, and we really liked what we saw today.

The one horse who has been most consistent in his gallops is Street Life, who barely makes a sound when he goes by; he is that smooth and efficient. He gallops straight as the proverbial arrow, holds his head perfectly still, with his ears up, and just make a good appearance out there every morning. His final work was solid enough, and he looks as if he has as legitimate shot to make some serious noise, especially second race blinkers on. It is apparent the blinkers have made him more focused and professional, as evidenced by the way he changes leads on cue, something he used to fail to do. He definitely is worth watching.

Of the others, Atigun has made a favorable impression in the way he gallops and his overall appearance. At 30-1, he wouldn’t be a total shock should he get up for a piece of it.

As for the wagering aspect of the race, no one has done anything eye-popping, with the exception of Dullahan’s fake-out work.

Last week, we were sure Union Rags was the horse to beat, and even though we have heard from many people who give him little or no shot (he can’t go the distance, his figures are too slow, he has a breathing problem etc), we’re still not jumping off that bandwagon until we see what he can do with a clean trip. This is the horse we thought was going to be trying for the Triple Crown, and as for his speed figures, how could they have gotten any faster when he’s had two disastrous trips? His pedigree is just fine with us, and he is such a powerful, grand-looking horse, his big strides make him a natural for Belmont Park’s sweeping turns. We think he’s going to be a pretty decent price and we’ll give him one more chance to show just how good a horse he is. And if it does come up sloppy, well, just go back and watch his race in last year’s Saratoga Special in the slop.

Dullahan has to be included in all exotics based on the way he’s training and his huge effort in the Kentucky Derby, when he closed strongly to finish third after getting parked eight to nine wide turning for home.

If there is a win bet that can offer a good payoff it is Street Life, who is on an upward spiral and is sitting on a career-best effort.

But the most obvious wager is simply boxing Dullahan, Union Rags, Paynter, and Street Life in the exactas and trifectas or superfectas and see how the cards fall. If you have the funds and want to throw in a bomb to snatch a piece of it, Atigun or Five Sixteen would be the two logical choices to choose from. My Adonis has always been a favorite dark horse of ours, but he was a very late addition to the race and we haven’t gotten a chance to see him.


Leave a Comment:



08 Jun 2012 1:41 PM

Yeah, we won't dwell on the disappointment even though that's a tall order.

I loved Union Rags as a 2yr old and had high hopes in the Derby.  I see him like a Point Given.  If this guy gets a chance to roll, I think he can eat up that long Belmont stretch.  I think Dullahan is a fine horse but wish I had seen more races from him.   I believe those two will be the top two finishers.

With regard to IHA: from a fan's viewpoint, I think the team surrounding him were classy from the Derby onward.  No bragging, boasting, posturing, predicting, etc. They would have been most deserving winners if he indeed could have won. Best of luck to him in his future.

To console myself, I just viewed the Belmont replays from 1973, 1977, 1978 and 'cuz I'm a female, I tossed in 2007.   I feel slightly better now.

08 Jun 2012 1:48 PM

Why disgust at IHA's scratch, Steve? Did the stakes barn fiasco contribute to the injury? Wouldn't surprise me given we know he didn't react well to the move.

At least I can now root for Union Rags with an open heart. He was my long time Derby pick but didn't have the right running style for that one. We'll see if he can get the distance here.

08 Jun 2012 1:52 PM

Mr. Haskin ~ Thank you for sharing what you've seen and your insights.  I have a question re: your statement, "We won’t even begin to express our disappointment and disgust over the scratch..."  I understand what you meant with 'disappointment' but I was confused by your use of the word 'disgust.'  Can you elaborate?  Thank you.

08 Jun 2012 2:14 PM

I understand your disappointment with the scratch of I'll Have Another but to whom or what is your disgust? Thank you for all your great articles. I especially enjoy your stories of the great racehorses of the past and the research you put into them.

08 Jun 2012 2:18 PM


I am wondering at the use of your word "disgust" at the

scratch of I'll Have Another. Is there something going on that has not been reported in the media (yes, I did watch the press conference)? Usually a scan does not tell the whole story about a tendon or ligament injury until some time has gone by, as was the case w/ Frankel earlier this year.

I am disappointed at the scratch but it is far better than running a horse that is not 100%. I actually became concerned yesterday because I sensed a different tone in the reports about I'll Have Another then.

I am disgusted about entire situation involving the detention barn. It is difficult enough to prepare a horse for one of these races without having to do it with one hand tied behind your back. Racing has taken many more steps toward self-destruction this spring. I had hoped to see one more TC winner before that happened.

08 Jun 2012 2:36 PM
Texas Thorne

The scratch was a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE disappointment, but Steve, why did you use the word "disgust"?  Is there more to the story than is being reported?  I think I would have been equally disappointed to see I'll Have Another perform poorly in the Belmont and certainly more disappointed had he run and sustained a worse injury.      

08 Jun 2012 2:37 PM

My heart is broken....I wanted a photo of Lava Man in the winner's circle with I'll Have Another.  All the luster has faded, and it's just another stakes race now. ho-hum.  Now, I don't care who wins.

I wonder if Paynter can surprise, if Dullahan rises to favorite, if Rosie will put all her skill into an unknown horse and shock us, or if Union Rags can avoid the troubling trips he always manages to create.  I don't know....what's worse, I don't know if I care.

First, I want to thank owner and trainer of IHA for doing right by their horse. With his skill, he'll be a valuable stud now that he's being retired.

Another Triple Crown remains unfulfilled on my tipsy bucket list...and I do mean tipsy.  A week before the Derby, I somersaulted down a flight of steps.  I guess I tried to straighten them out, but they knocked the crap out of me. Still recovering, I am also packing as I give in to my kiddos' demands of moving closer to them.  I was really looking forward to the Belmont, and now it will take at least another year of keeping my bucket upright and intact.  That ain't easy to do at this rate.  

Dr D: Now I need your sage advice...do I go with an afternoon of Belmont Breezes (ugh..not a whiskey fan), stick to a Bay Breeze (cranberry & Vodka ok), or just open up that Cabernet Sauvignon and stay off the steps?

Steve, we've had a lot to root for over the past 5 weeks.  I hate to see it end so sadly.  Tell us more about IHA and Lava Man in 5 months, after we've gotten over the initial shock and regret.

08 Jun 2012 2:39 PM
The Deacon

Words can not express the disappointment I am feeling right now. To retire the horse so quickly makes no sense. These are common injuries and obviously he shouldn't run unless he is 100% but to retire him at such a young age, wow.  This is a knee jerk decision by the connections. This decision didn't have to be made today, there was no reason for it. The whole Belmont experience with IHA have been marred from the get go. The NYRA should be very proud of themselves. I don't blame them for the injury but I certainly hold them accountable for all the garbage leading up to todays heart breaker.

I could tell in your writing Steve that you are as devastated as the rest of us. Nothing more I can add here, bad, bad day for our beloved sport.........

08 Jun 2012 2:43 PM

I have always said, "I want to live long enough to see another triple crown winner". Well, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. That being the case, I could live to be 150 years old, not a pleasant thought. Oddly enough, the thought of an injury striking down I'll Have Another did cross my mind several days ago. He was previously sidelined due to injury. It bothered me a bit, but I shook it off and figured I was just getting nervous edging closer to the big day. We'll see it again someday, Steve. I don't know how old we'll be, but we will see another horse crowned. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have a good cry.

08 Jun 2012 2:50 PM

It's too bad. He was a solid,sound horse who was lightly raced and managed with "kid gloves".....my heart goes out to everybody. Instead of 125,000 people at the track,there's only gonna be 40,000.......this is perhaps the saddest part! I guess I'll take Unstoppable U at 22-1. Why do I feel like I've just attended a funeral?

08 Jun 2012 2:51 PM

I gotta try to be optimistic here, because that's all we have left.  It's still a Classic race and there are some very good horses running tomorrow.  Can one of them win our hearts?  I'm old enough to remember when Hoist the Flag went out before the Derby (though not the day before) and everyone was talking about what a sad Derby it would be.  But nobody told Canonero II the spring was lost, and he ran into immortality!

Here's what I hope - that Union Rags has an error-free day and we can see the horse that won the Champagne and not the bad-luck magnet from the Derby (though how he came from the back to 6th place is still amazing).  I like Atigun, and need to find out more about Paynter before tomorrow.

And I hope Dullahan runs the race I think he can.  If he does, I think we'll see a chestnut face with white markings first at the line.  It just won't be IHA.

08 Jun 2012 3:02 PM

Steve. why the disgust for the scratch?  Disappointment, yes, but disgust?  Do you think he should have been scratched earlier?  I'm just curious.  Do tell.

08 Jun 2012 3:17 PM

I'm in shock, so the word "retired" just flew over my head. Pinch me, am I dreaming or is this horse actually done racing? No Breeder's Cup? No more stretch duels with Bodemeister? Nothing? I find this highly unusual, if not absolutely weird given the medical facts as they stand now. Obviously, we are missing a rather big piece of the puzzle. I'm not suggesting IHA race if he's not 100%, but retiring such a gifted pony? I wonder if this decision would've been made 40 or 50 years ago, or would the horse have run for the crown anyway?

08 Jun 2012 3:19 PM

Dear Steve,

In your first sentence what did you mean by "disgust"?

08 Jun 2012 3:27 PM

Just devastating!! So upsetting and bad for the sport. I am impressed with the care this team has for this horse. they just want to do what's best for him. Now I pray that Union Rags can cheer me up!

08 Jun 2012 3:28 PM

Steve--I have to ask why you used the comment "disappointment and disgust" in your article?  The disappointment is obvious but does the word "disgust" suggest that the scratch wasn't due to an injury? I am heartsick over this development as I so wanted him to win the Triple Crown.

08 Jun 2012 3:35 PM

Dear Mr. Haskins,

I was wondering what you meant by the word "disgust" in your first sentence.  Most of us are extremely disappointed by this news, but "disgust" was not one of my emotions.  I really want to know your feelings on this news, as I have the UTMOST respect for your opinion.  

Thank you very much.

08 Jun 2012 3:36 PM

Although I am a Union Rags fan, so sorry that IHA won't be there. I have said all along, UR has the pedigree to win the Belmont.  The tail side of his pedigree is speaking loud and clear, distance will not be a problem.  I'm interested in the top side of a colt's pedigree, but my main interest is in the female line.

Oh well, back in 1973, many people were saying that a Bold Ruler colt could not possibly win the Belmont; and then along came Secretariat.  Most people didn't bother to look at his dam, Somethingroyal, a Princequillo mare. There was distance all over her pedigree.

08 Jun 2012 3:37 PM
an ole railbird

well i hate it ,as bad as anyone else does. but we still have a gate of horses & a race to run. the old addage "1 monkey dont stop no show ". the racing officals in new york, showed their back sides. the contingentof the uniformed,& whineing bleeding hearts, & their constant repeation of hate, & discontent, has succeded in putting doug oneal& connections in the position , that they cant take a chance. if they were to run & hurt iha, it would become the biggest hassel in racing history. on the world front, the usa should figure out which country, in the un that we would, rather not continue to prosper. and then just GIVE THE WHOLE STATE OF NEW YORK TO THEM.!!! the rest of the usa should not be held responseable for their (new yorks) ignororance. i said it ,& i stand behind the statement, iam "an ole railbird".

08 Jun 2012 3:43 PM

Hi Steve,

I was watching HRTV when they were first starting to say that something may be wrong. I felt the blood just drain out of my face, and now IHA is retired.  Damn, what a morning.

My heart goes out to team O'Neil & Paul Reddam.

Steve, I just want to take this opportunity to praise you for all your hard work along the Triple Crown Trail, the brilliant photographs that brought everything to life. Your heart warming stories that made laugh and brought tears to my eyes.

You are the caliber of man that all aspiring turf writers should seek to emulate in their own lives.

With Kind Regards,


08 Jun 2012 3:59 PM
Abigail Anderson

Hi Steve. I've gotta ask....why "disgust"? Just wanted to know more. Feeling pretty devastated. I just knew this colt was going to run big tomorrow.....

08 Jun 2012 4:00 PM

I have my doubts about Dullahan.  I know they are sharpening him up to hopefully stay closer to the pace, but on this day he is a deep closer, and has never won a race on a dirt track. If Dullahan stays in his closing mode, I can't see him winning this race.  

Steve, is there any pacesetting speed in this race?  I have yet to do my research,so just wondering.  

08 Jun 2012 4:04 PM

Union Rags is a pretty laid back horse, so this should help him with all of the commotion going on in New York.

If the track is sloppy I'm going with Union Rags, Dullahan, Optimizer, and Five Sixteen in a superfecta.  If the track is not sloppy, I don't know what to do, except keep Union Rags. I need to get off of my lazy butt and research.

08 Jun 2012 4:19 PM

You know, all of these contenders in the Belmont deserve to have a bottle of beer tonight.  Zenyatta drank a bottle of beer everyday, and I think she continues to do so.

08 Jun 2012 4:26 PM
Jean in Chicago

I just want to cry.  I checked into Bloodhorse every morning scared of what the headline might be and each day saying 'OK, we got through that night'.  At least the worst didn't happen, he didn't completely break down.

I saw Secretariat, Slew and Affirmed and was really hoping to see another TC in my life time.  They say hope springs eternal, but I'm feeling very old and tired right now.

I can't agree with Paula that horses should have to run in all three races, that just seems like stacking the deck somehow.  But I do like the idea of bringing back the 'point system' to encourage entry in all 3 races.  

08 Jun 2012 4:30 PM
Soldier Course

Consolation Prize: I'll Have Another will be leading the Postponed Parade at the Belmont Stakes.

08 Jun 2012 4:33 PM
El Kabong


I can't even begin to imagine the disappointment for all involved in what was to be a great moment in sport for thoroughbred racing.  My heart goes out to everyone and that includes yourself.  

But, remember, even in moments like this, the surprise of a star rising might just shed a memorable moment on tomorrow's race. I can remember the 2006 Preakness like it was yesterday. Not many gave Bernardini a chance at 16 to 1 and yet amid the sorrow of an event much worse than what we now face, emerged a true  superstar. If it happens, we will be in a much better situation to enjoy it.

Let's hope for it, because we might still see real talent lift us from this great disappointment, and offer us something to look forward too this summer.

08 Jun 2012 4:44 PM
Karen in Indiana

Hi Steve, why disgust?

I feel like the air has been let out of a balloon and can only imagine what those involved must be feeling like. Paul Reddam looked like he was trying not to cry and who could blame him if he had?

08 Jun 2012 5:11 PM

So sorry, Mr. Haskin, that you are disgusted. However, I am puzzled as to why. It's  by far, better to have it happen now when the horse can be saved. Can you imagine the scene tomorrow, if IHA had broken down in the Belmont?

I have been silent now for about two weeks because of all the razz-a-ma-taz. I sure didn't want to rain on anybody's parade but all the indications. were there that something might happen. When his training regimen became public I got a bad feeling. I have warned previously about the current nature of Thoroughbred breeding. So now, this good horse with 7 lifetime starts will enter yet another breeding shed with all the other good horses with career ending injuries to make some people astounding amounts of money. No one breeder cares about the Thoroughbred anymore, it's just the greed.  

08 Jun 2012 5:21 PM
Mister Frisky

Dissapointing to say the least.Only positive is IHA is ok.I'm a horse first guy.Many negatives though.No chance for history.Terrible odds on UR and Dullahan now.Unless something very bizarre happens it will be chalk city tomorrow.Thanks again Steve for another TC season.Just think only six more months till your next derby dozen.

08 Jun 2012 6:01 PM

I must have missed something. How was Dullahan's workout a 'fake' ?

08 Jun 2012 6:12 PM
Tom Fool


With whom are you disgusted?

I think the whole way this race has been handled by the NYRA and the NY State Racing and Wagering Board has been a fiasco and they deserve the race they are going to get tomorrow.

08 Jun 2012 6:12 PM

Glad to see that you express "disappointment and disgust." Clearly we are all disappointed. The disgust aspect is accurate and, as usual, bold of you to report as many in the business will gloss over it. If you saw the TVG feed this morning, there were many "contradictions" as to this scratch and the reasons given for it.  Many, like me, will believe that the forced detention forced the scratch as Druggie O'Neill could not load the horse up with performance enhancing drugs to get him through this race. With his issues, Druggie could not afford a Big Brown "did not finish" or worse or a later drug investigation.  Better to save face and preserve their future and pull the horse from the race with a "minor injury."  Send him off to the breeding shed, collect big bucks, go back to California and relative obscurity. Wouldn't surprise me at all that the horse has had this ache during each of the past few races. Guys like this should stay on the farm.  That said, I will be at Belmont tomorrow with the thousands who have tickets in hand on a beautiful Saturday in NYC.  I bet the crowd is still large as plans have already been made.  Disgust is the right word but the game is on and I will be there!

08 Jun 2012 6:48 PM
Tiz Herself

Wow - the wind has completely been sucked out of my sails. Am completely numb and haven't quite absorbed this day's events... I applaud the connections of I'll Have Another for doing right by the horse... is just an extremely hard concept to grasp. The 'what if' that will forever surround this... I have do doubt that if he'd stayed healthy that we would have seen something spectacular tomorrow.

Sorry to see him retired and that he wouldn't come back as a four year old... but I thank I'll Have Another and team IHA....

Am going to pop in a Zenyatta dvd or something..

08 Jun 2012 6:59 PM

Breaking children's hearts.

08 Jun 2012 7:38 PM

Thanks Steve. On to the Belmont.  Did you see Byk's tweet about IHA and 76 years?  As a friend said, wry humor.

08 Jun 2012 8:20 PM

Well today I did something I almost never do ...I checked the Bloodhorse site on my phone during lunch at work.  I was soooo excited about the upcoming triple crown that I was dying for some news on how our boy was doing.  Man did I wish I hadn't done that for the rest of the day!  What a letdown! The day after the Derby I also did something I have not done in many years and that was go buy the newspaper so I could save the article.  I just got a feeling he was going to win it all and I wanted the articles from the races to put with the ones I have of Spectacular Bid, Affirmed and Seattle Slew.  I also bought one after the Preakness. Now I can't even believe how disappointed I have felt ever since hearing the news.  Even more so, I can't even begin to imagine how awful his connections must be feeling.  My heart goes out to all of you if you read this!  I am very thankful though that nothing life threatening happened and we will get to see little I'll Have Another's in a few years!!!!  Don't know who I want to win now but I rather expect Dullahan to get it.  

08 Jun 2012 8:20 PM

Such a huge disappointment for all concerned.  I just finished reading your Barn Burner blog and can't imagine these professional trainers having to be treated as "suspect" in every move they make.  Got to laugh about the "cooked oats" episode, but I'm sure Mr. O'Neill's patience has been tested to the limit.  I appreciate your take on the barn activities.  It really is too bad.  I was such a stalwart fan of IHA I really haven't followed any of the others.  I hope they all come out of the race ok and it will be nice to see IHA & Lava Man one last time in the post parade.  Thank you as always for your terrific reporting.

08 Jun 2012 9:11 PM

I'm so sad but already liked optimzer feel even though d wayne says hes a cut below I love his closing kick

08 Jun 2012 9:20 PM

I'm so sad but already liked optimzer feel even though d wayne says hes a cut below I love his closing kick

08 Jun 2012 9:20 PM

Why disgust, Steve?

08 Jun 2012 9:31 PM
Bill Two

Well, at least Reddam and O'Neill had the good sense to scratch the horse.  Too bad Johnny Longden and Mr. McMahon didn't scratch Majestic Prince.  Too bad Buddy Delp and Harry Meyerhoff didn't scratch the Bid after stepping on the safety pin.  At least the bettors won't be duped this time.

08 Jun 2012 10:03 PM

This just does not sit right with me. Why do I feel like I was taken for a ride? Of course, I only want IHA to be healthy. I think the Triple Crown needs to be retired from racing. Sentimental pick is Union Rags, but I want Dullahan to blow us all away.

08 Jun 2012 10:05 PM

Steve, Pls clarify when you say 'our disappointment & disgust' over the scratch of IHA.  Disappointment I get, - disgust? Why? what have I missed, or what do you know from being there? Taken at face value, the horse shouldn't run.

08 Jun 2012 10:27 PM
Steve Haskin

I used the word disgust, because it was my gut reaction, based on how the media mercilessly  and continuously attacked Doug O'Neill and to a lesser extent Paul Reddam; disgust that the horse never got a chance to complete the TC and a chance at history; disgust at the setup for the press conference at Barn 2, with no regard for the Belmont horses stabled there, who should have been resting at that hour, but had to be exposed to hundreds of media members setting up cameras and running all over the place; and disgust,actually heartbreak, at watching I'll Have Another walk from Barn 2 back to Barn 9 looking fantastic and walking totally sound. That made it even more disappointing. Just disgusting at the entire way all this has been handled and the way it ended.

08 Jun 2012 10:50 PM
Arts and Letters

Looks like the powers that be got exactly what they wanted - no triple crown for I'll Have Another and O'Neill.  I have to say that American racing excels at shooting itself in the foot, and the lead up to the Belmont seemed to summarize everything that's wrong with the sport.  

If anyone wants to feel better, I suggest a large dose of British and Australian racing - Frankel, Camelot, Black Caviar, Big Bucks and more!  

As for North American racing?  It's still mildly diverting and I'll keep watching,but I'm done with getting attached to any horses over here.  There's just no point.

08 Jun 2012 11:17 PM
Mister Frisky

We feel your pain Steve.Hopefully in the next few years the drought will be over and it will be that much sweeter.You might want to indulge in a few adult beverages to ease the pain.Good luck at the windows tomorrow.

08 Jun 2012 11:19 PM
Karen in Texas

Thanks for explaining your use of the word "disgust", Steve. It is essentially what I thought you meant, but I, too, was worried about it (your usage of the word) for most of today. Team IHA made a reasonable decision for their horse. It would take months of rest and rehab to bring him back in the middle of his 4y/o season. Mr. Reddam clearly stated during the Q&A at the press conference that IHA's value as a stallion prospect based on his current record was, in part, a factor in the retirement decision. He also cited the fact that it was not likely IHA would ever be able to perform again at his previous level of excellence. This was a fair decision.

08 Jun 2012 11:25 PM

Thank you for the explanation of the disgust.

From everything that has been said about how this has all been handled in New York with the special barn with no thoughts of the comfort of the colts, the insane levels of inspections (checking the ice buckets? really? the ice buckets?), and the media circus of negativity surrounding O'Neil (who has been as gracious as a human being could possibly be under the circumstances) - disgust sounds like a very appropriate word.

I am heartbroken.

This colt was the real deal.

He had the pedigree, the talent, the tactical speed, the fitness and bottom, and most of all the great competitive heart of a champion  thoroughbred to have won the Crown.

He really could have done this.

To me he was the best chance we've had since Sunday Silence.

However, I do think that the scratch was the correct decision for the horse himself. And the horse should always be put first.

That said, I really do wish they could have waited to see how he responded to rest and eventual light training before retiring him. It is too late for this year's breeding season, so why the rush?

08 Jun 2012 11:32 PM

I'm not sure I can bring myself to even watch this race.  I'm devastated that I'll Have Another will not run, and am disgusted as well with the "powers that be" with the detention barn, treatment of the trainer, etc.  Sad day to see I'll Have Another leave the detention barn.

08 Jun 2012 11:43 PM

Well, I am still in shock I think and it is 11:45 PM the night before the Belmont.  I was going with a heavy heart anyway, now I am going completely heartbroken.  I wanted IHA to get this so badly it hurts.  At least he is ok and I guess I can say a quite goodbye to him as he leads the post parade.  I'll be in tears instead of jumping for joy at Belmont Park.  If tendonitis had to set in why couldn't it wait a couple weeks after the Belmont and his Triple Crown attempt.  The elusive Triple Crown, it remains ever so elusive.

I was so sure this was the year, not meant to be I guess.  



Street Life


I caught TVG ever so briefly at lunch and Mario had mounts at Belmont today, he rode on bravely mustering a smile still thankful for what IHA has done for him. Heartbreaking.

08 Jun 2012 11:52 PM

I can understand where you're coming from on all points but one, Steve. Why disgust at IHA's looking fantastic and walking totally sound? Do you disagree with the prognosis?

Considering the disgust we 'all' feel about the attacks on O'Neil by the media, can you imagine what the poor guy would have to go through, and the field day they would have if IHA pulled up after a mile with a bowed tendon or worse? Especially when they start ranting that O'Neil knew the horse wasn't sound but ran him anyway? Think of all the pointing fingers just waiting to say, "See, I told you so!" And if it so happened that he did lose, there would always be the argument that he wasn't 100%. As miserable and as twisted as this TC season has been, it was a fitting end. We can only hope that there were lessons learned by those who had a part in making it such a disgusting experience!

O'Neil remained true to form in confirming his plea of Not Guilty,

"It's all about the horse".

Defense Rest !

09 Jun 2012 12:09 AM
Rolling Thundar

Steve.....First Let Me Compliment You, For All Your fine and professional Coverage that you have extended to All of Us, the racing fans, From the Begining of this Racing Season for the 3yr old Colts, Starting in January and through All the Preps. Though the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and the Belmont......Truly You are one Hell of a Professional Writer....And Even more So....One hell of a Man....You've Watched this Game so Long....And have Seen Your share of UP's and Down's that come with trying to Handicapping these Special Races that only come Once A Year......Don't Listen to All the Blah, Blah, Blah, about Using a Word to discribe Your Own Feelings......Most of those who don't Agree with you on your choice of words......Are like the Charlie Brown Christmas Cartoon, where the teacher Talks....Whann,Whann,Whann,Whann,Whann.......

You are Truly a Man of Passion about Horse Racing......

Please Keep Up the Fine Work that Continues to Give to the rest of US Passionate Horse Players.......Love What You Do for the Game.......Sincerely RT.

09 Jun 2012 12:09 AM
Needler in Virginia

Gotcha and thanks for the clarification, Steve; NOW I agree with the "disgust part".....

HOWEVER, even though I'm lucky enough to be around (not understanding the first two, but around nevertheless) for Assault, Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed, I STILL wanted one more...just one little ole Triple Crown more; is that too much to ask? OK, there's always next year but my next years are far fewer than the already gone years, so I'll end with this: merde, poop, doo doo, excrement, scheisse, crapola, horse puckey, rabbit pellets, ferret flop, lizard leavings, and I'll not make you censor the "s" word. BAH, HUMBUG!!

Live long and prosper I'll Have Another, cheers to you and your team, be safe, be well and maybe you and Zenyatta can get together someday. Now THAT'S a foal I'd love to see.

To everyone else, and especially Dullahan.....cheers and very safe trips.

09 Jun 2012 12:10 AM

I must say Steve, your reply about your use of the word disgust I couldn't have said better. If there is any consolation, you are not the only one feeling it too.

09 Jun 2012 12:24 AM

Thank you for explaining your disgust.  I feel the same about the points you made.

09 Jun 2012 12:52 AM

I'm a long-time reader of Steve and I'm trusting his views on this. I will not wager on the Belmont nor will I watch it. I'm out.

09 Jun 2012 1:14 AM

In the context you placed it, Steve, "disgust" is the appropriate word...and I agree with you.  Thank you for expressing our anger.

09 Jun 2012 1:17 AM
Wil. E. Kayotay

Mr.Haskin, I undersetand your "disgust" and frustration. People attack me when I voice concerns about the industry, but my bottom line has always been, I love the horses more than the people. Let's be honest here, most times-people suck-and horses are noble, honest, earnest and beautiful creatures that we take way more from than we give.

I was not surprised in the least by this turn of events. I did not expect to see a Triple Crown winner this year, or ever again for that matter. I know most people do not believe it's true, but I stand by my belief that the "American Thoroughbred" has been inbred to the point of failure. By that I mean the all consuming greed that sent every other mare to Northern Dancer, or Storm Cat or whatever stallion was the flavor of the decade.

When the shuttle stallions of yesteryear were brought to this country or at least had their progeny brought over, that's when the great race horses of stamina ruled the land. You know the story better than me: Citation, Dr. Fager, Damascus, Count Fleet, et al. These great runners would start 30, 40, even 50 times in a career. Yes they had injuries, but dammit they were runners!

Now we are lucky to see horses run eight races before they have to call it a career due to some

injury. I won't repeat all the names we know so well, but over just the last ten years, a person would have to be blind to not say, "hey, something is wrong here"!

So, while I do think we have seen our last Triple Crown winner in Affirmed, there is a positive breeding trend that I really hope will continue, and that is the renewed emphasis on shuttle stallions. Let's get more of those Australian tanks like Lonhro (?) into the mix. Owners should lobby hard to get to the Coolmore stallions (sons of Montjou), and even Galileo (more Northern Dancer blood), but still from outside the American influence.

So that's my take, and good luck to the horse. I am glad we did not have another Barbaro situation, so if the owner and trainer prevented this, they are very good people.

09 Jun 2012 1:43 AM

Maybe there are larger forces at play and these connections, or IHA, were threatened in some way if their horse ran. I still can not wrap my brain around this. I thought 'disgusted' was a perfect word choice - me, too. None of this is right.

09 Jun 2012 1:51 AM

Steve; I've always felt you are a realist, but an optomist too.  And I've always felt your true love of racing.  

This article disturbs me because I am hearing a distinct "shift" in your tone.  I can tell this one has really gotten to you.

09 Jun 2012 1:51 AM
Linda in Texas

Steve, i saw your post very soon after you entered it on line.

I did not respond, i simply could not find the words so i waited until now. But all afternoon i thought about you and how it must have affected you. And i felt guilty for not responding sooner.

I just wanted to say Thank You for your wonderful articles.

And I can totally understand the word disgust. And i thought we were old enough that maybe disappointments would not find their way to all of us. After all, my dad used to tell me when i had disappointments in my life that they were just preparing me to be stronger for the next one that would be worse.  I am old enough to not relish anymore disappointments, family deaths and magnificent horses who through no fault of their own never get the chance to show us their stuff. Just how strong do all of us have to be?

And To Mr. and Mrs. Reddam, Douglas and Dennis O'Neill, their families, Mario Gutierrez and your family, to Benjamin, Johnny, Beto, Salas, Leandro, Thumper, Rio, and Tyler thank you all. And there was one more name i wrote down as Doug thanked you all that started with a J and was Spanish. You all have been splendid with so many issues being pitched your way.

Adversity is hard to accept when you are doing the best you can.

I cried when i saw the alert. I had

such high hopes for him and high hopes for those trying to beat him.

Even Dale Romans who i like tremendously, said he was disappointed as he wanted to be in the race when history was made. That is a noble comment. I love the California Trainers, they are not on their home turf and they are showing a dignity that most have to dig real deep to find.

Slew - Bottle of Gold Teguila in one hand, lemon and salt close and in that order. Don't even bother with a glass!!!!

And Slew did you hear that I'll Have Another will be leading the Post Parade with Lava Man. NYRA asked Mr. Reddam and Douglas and they contacted other owners to make sure it was okay with them and many welcomed the gesture for all the people who have bought their tickets expecting to see I'll Have Another. And Mario Gutierrez will be riding I'll Have Another.

So Slew you will get to see Lava Man and I'll Have Another and Mario on the Belmont track leading the horses. So get your recorders ready. That should be a treat for those of us who dared to dream one more time.

Steve, i think i know why i admired I'll Have Another so much.

He was born on April 1, he is an Aries like us, in fact Zenyatta was born on April 1. I figured that

is why she danced and so did IHA on his way to the stakes barn on

Wednesday. He looked divine.

Cheers and safe journeys to all.


09 Jun 2012 2:01 AM
The Deacon

Bravo Steve at your assessment, this has been a fuster-cluck from the beginning. If I never watch another horse race at Belmont Park it will be too soon...........

I am just mad, period.........

09 Jun 2012 2:14 AM
an ole railbird

thank you steve for that clarification aboutyou being disgusted. the 1 good thing about the whole matter is that you & your following bloggers are in the position, to raise cain to the high heavens, about the new york powers that be,& their high handed ways. by protesting through a blog, the horseman can get involved & not be penalized by racing officals for their statements. the whole state of new york should be made aware of the discontent with the whole system. & new york racing should be given a dose of their own medicine. you sir mr. haskins, are in a good position to lead the charge. so what are we gonna do with this opportunity??? "an ole railbird" railing about new york racing.!!

09 Jun 2012 2:39 AM

It seems more people were concerned as to why you were "disgusted" than they were anything else. I am profoundly disappointed that I'll Have Another won't be running for the crown, but I am angry and disgusted, if you wiil, that such a talented colt is being retired to the breeding shed at the age of 3. What a crock of BS. No wonder the industry can't pull in new fans, gee, I wonder why. We are retiring ponies after a handful of races. People can no longer connect to the horse, just as they start to like them, they are gone. It's nonsense, and at this rate the sport will die. It's just a matter of time. Fans who have followed the horses for decades are thriving on memories of the past, and most younger fans are interested simply for gambling. Horses these days are not even on the track long enough to establish a fan base, Zenyatta being an exception to the rule. You have a right to be disgusted, Steve. No need to couch words, I'm disgusted that the once noble sport of horse racing is on it's knees about to fall on it's face.

09 Jun 2012 2:58 AM

I totally agree with the "disgust" comment and understand where Steve is coming from. O'Neil got the John Veitch treatment here. With racing commissions in both New York and California out to get him as well as the NY Times did he really have a chance?

09 Jun 2012 7:21 AM

Someone earlier said, "Retire the Triple Crown."  There's an idea whose time might've come.  As much as I love tradition, perhaps these three races in their present format are not a good measure of the modern Thoroughbred.  There's a disconnect between their preparation and the demands of the spring schedule.  Disgust, yes, because IHA deserved better.

09 Jun 2012 7:41 AM
Pedigree Ann

More on 'soft-tissue' injuries:

"It is still a relatively minor injury," said Bramlage, who did not examine the horse himself but did consult with trainer Doug O’Neill’s veterinarian Dr. Jim Hunt. "This is a slow-healing injury; he could take a year to fully recover. Because he is a stallion prospect, that could hurt his value. If he was a gelding, he would have likely made a come-back."

So he could have been back next year but not in this coming fall; no 2012 BC. And this is the calculus these days - he can make more money next year as a stallion than he can as a racehorse.

We need more geldings! Geld some of these 17-handers so they don't pound their forelegs with the heavy stallion-build in the front-end.

09 Jun 2012 7:51 AM
Thelwell Pony

This cannot be salvaged for the casual racing fan. Disgust is a fine word. To heck with New York. To heck with greed. To heck with truth? Yep, I think so.

I hope they run safely today (and every day). I hope a phoenix rises out of the ashes in New York. I don't expect it, though.

09 Jun 2012 8:50 AM

Hi Steve,

It's early Belmont Day...and I woke up at the same time I would have to go out to the track.

Would you believe I feel emotionally hung over?  It's like a mini depression.  If it deepens I wonder if I can sue the Racing Board?

Disqust is right.  I sure hope IHA didn't wrack up that leg kicking the stell in his "new" digs.  It does happen.

I'm not saying the board shouldn't exist.  Did they consult with any one who knows which end of the horse eats and which end deficates?  

What a bunch of maroons.

I would hope that in the future for this type of move that they be made to consult a panel of horsemen/owners.  If they had done this earlier in a more organized manner perhaps it would not have been so bad.  To me it reeks of power play and they did so at an elementary school level.  

Shame on them.

As for the race, Dullahan was my Derby horse...Paynter...and I have a sniggle, Optimizer.  

Take care.

09 Jun 2012 8:58 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Slew and Jean in Chicago

  At least we did have the 70's but I think I'll drown my sorrows with milkshakes and cookies today. Slew- If you can blockout the negativity and nonsense, it was a great run, and hasn't O'Neill been amazing despite all that he has faced? I'm beginning to wonder if all we'll ever have is the elusive pursuit of the Crown, and that will have to be enough. With all of the negativity and sabateurs would a Triple Crown really be what we want it to be anyway? Have a cookie and enjoy life. I don't want to see you sad.

09 Jun 2012 9:00 AM

Steve, I have understood why you used the term "disgust" because I felt the same.  Belmont went out of their way to demean IHA and the O'Neill crew.  And now they'll suffer where it hurts them the most..their pockets...when the gate turns up much less than might have been for a TC.

According to owner and trainer, allowing IHA time to heal and retrain would get him back to the track no sooner than May 2013.  Even then, he would not come back as the same horse, and would have missed the entire 2013 breeding season.  He's most valuable as a stud right now.  KY Derby and Preakness winner...the mares will be happy to see him.

I keep thinking...Calif horses came in 1-2 in the Derby.  They came in 1-2-3 in the Preakness.  So I'm hoping (a bit spitefully) that the lone California entry, Paynter, knocks their socks off and wins this race.  (yes I have my doubts about his experience, but absolutely no doubts about Mike Smith.) Wouldn't that just scorch those smug b@#&@$#% at the NYRA and Belmont.

09 Jun 2012 9:00 AM

And I forgot to say, I could kick myself (if it wouldn't hurt so much). Ron Turcotte was at our local track, Pocono Downs, last night, and I wasn't aware he would be there. Darn!  I missed him!

09 Jun 2012 9:05 AM
El Kabong


Dullahan's fake is in reference to the manner in which he ran the workout. He looked to be moving much slower but the time revealed a different story.

09 Jun 2012 9:05 AM
Point Given

Paynter will complete the TC run for the Cali based horses.

09 Jun 2012 9:11 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Disgusting, ridiculous, nonsense, idiocy, nincompoops, stupid, lunacy, disrespectful, blind deaf and dumb, moronic, political BS, destructive, cruel, and inhumane are some of the words I'd use. And those are just for the hastily setup detention barn devised to punish one man and one barn for past infractions but really was a nightmare for every horse and every crew member. It doesn't even count the words that could be used to describe the CHRB's untimely decision and punishment for milkshaking that even in their own words wasn't milkshaking and could have been anything including the use of Lasix which they endorse.(I am against the use of raceday meds and I believe that all horses should race only when 100%) Steve Haskin For President.

09 Jun 2012 9:15 AM

I agree one hundred percent this has been a side show at best,When this horse won the preakness watch him real close coming throug the stretch you will notice he is carrying his head cocked to the right, and drifting in, he starts out app 5 path at head of stretch and when mario really gives him his head and chases him at the end he ends up right next to Bodemister, he was starting to show wear and tear right then. There had been reports that the horse did not look as good wed, thur as he had, lady on espn had noted that excersise rider had moved his hands, urging IHA on while galloping, God they galloped the hell out of this horse, What I really don't understand, a horse like this and it takes you all that time to get a vet over there? To many distractions in other areas, vet should of been there 24/7 no if n's about it.A sprained ankle, what kind of an assesment was that,tendon problems r the kiss of death, they only lead to worse things, I loved that horse, he is one very talented horse, fuuny how good horses make good trainers,Not vice-versa

09 Jun 2012 9:28 AM

Disgust at how some trainers balked at the barn rules?  Disgust because the media "attacked" a proven drug abusing trainer (and to a lesser extent, the owner who chose that trainer)? Disgust at NYRA for wanting to keep this race clean and being forced to take these measures solely because of O'Neil's presence?  Disgust at how a so-so horse will now not be immortalized?  (He is no Secretariat, Affirmed or even Spectacular Bid.) Well, I'm disgusted too- at the journalists who attempt to turn this into a pity party for a trainer who should never have gotten this far in the sport without being banned.   I have never wished harm on any horse, and I'm greatful that IHA's injury is not serious.  However, I am also greatful that the racing gods saw fit to stop this TC sweep by an unscrupulous, cheating trainer- just as they did in 2008.  What would, in fact, be truly disgusting would be to see the Triple Crown tradition and history blemished by having O'Neill's name associated with it.

09 Jun 2012 9:36 AM
Bret Stossel

I was very disappointed yesterday when I heard of IHA's scratch from the Belmont. Then I watched a video of Secretariat's win in the '73 Belmont. Nothing since in racing has approached that performance. Not Seattle Slew, not Affirmed, nothing. Had IHA won the Belmont it would have been fun but just another race in comparison.

09 Jun 2012 9:39 AM
Abigail Anderson

TOTALLY AGREE! Thank God for you, Steve. You have the integrity and the heart to call it exactly as it was. In fact, you've got a heart as big as I'll Have Another and his gracious, ethical Team.

09 Jun 2012 10:49 AM

Looks like "misery" has lots of company this morning. I programmed my DVR for today's race and was SO looking forward to another exuberant effort by IHA and a joyful--and crowded--Belmont winner's circle celebration.

I agree with Mr. Haskin regarding the hounding of Team O'Neill, the sniping at Mr. Reddam and his businesses, etc. I think the connections to I'll Have Another handled themselves with grace and good humor, and Doug O'Neill especially gets thumbs up from everyone I've talked to, including people who know him, who have been part-owners of TBs on the tracks here in CA. I first heard of him when Merv Griffin was interviewed on TVG. Mr. Griffin said the same thing Mr. Reddam said more recently--that Doug included all the owners, even "small part-owners," in the daily doings of "their horse." The size of the crowd in the winner's circle at Santa Anita after winning the Robert B. Lewis stakes speaks to everyone being part of the "family."

From the start of the Triple Crown run, it was almost "overkill" in the way the officials handled the horse and his connections: NY officials not allowing the breathing strip, then IHA having to be in the stakes barn that sounded too small to handle the Belmont entries. Not many seemed happy with that, though Team O'Neill said nothing derogatory. I had flashbacks to my days of living in the college dorms: We each had a room but had to share everything else and with everyone heading out to classes first thing each morning, the showers were busy and you didn't dare lose your place in line).

Having a "happy horse" is important in any discipline--and I do understand about following rules and all--but other trainers I saw interviewed were also not pleased with the stakes barn setup at Belmont.

In a perfect world, Thoroughbreds would train and run, happy in their work, fortified only with "jet fuel food" and permissible supplements, jockeys would not need to abuse their bodies to attain the weight required, and everyone would go home satisfied with the accomplishments at the end of the day. (Oh, and TBs that were not competitive would find suitable second careers).

However, this will never be a perfect world, human beings will be what they are and Fate dealing the cards. Sadly for us hardcore race fans, a Triple Crown winner--that seemed SO within our grasp this year--will have to wait until 2013.

Best wishes to the Reddams and Team O'Neill, to "Super Mario" and most of all to I'll Have Another. Thanks for allowing us to "ride along" in this wonderful story.

09 Jun 2012 11:02 AM

Steve, as much as you love your job, the NYSRWB found a way to make it awful, and make horse and racing fans acutely aware of the disconnect between the members of the NYSRWB and the real world.  As you point out above, anyone who has worked in the barns knows afternoon is nap time for horses, and those athletes need the rest.  Their worlds were already turned around with the last minute addition of the Belmont Stakes Barn and its associated convolutions of daily life, they couldn't at least let them have their naps?!  The NYSRWB effectively multiplied the stress on every horse and human involved, even tangentially, and then doubled down on it with a press conference setup the day before the big race.  I think they should be fined and suspended - they have milkshaked this process, while O'Neill actually didn't milkshake his horses, as pointed out by Andy Beyer in the Washington Post yesterday, and I appreciate the perspective he has taken and printed in a pretty widely-read publication (www.washingtonpost.com/.../gJQAgOEUOV_story.html).

Setting aside the whole debacle for a moment, I am among those hoping Union Rags finally has the trip he needs to show us whether he is the real deal or just another precocious two year old who didn't live up to our hopes for him.  Your pictures of him earlier in the week were impressive, he looks terrific.

Speaking of hopes, any idea whether we will be seeing Out Of Bounds later this summer?

Thanks again for all you do.  We know you love your job (most days), but just the same, we deeply appreciate your skill at making us feel as if we were trailing around behind you, seeing and hearing all the same things you are.  Haskin Rocks!!!

09 Jun 2012 11:12 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

John Sabini reminds me of the cowboys in the old westerns that shoot at people's feet to make them dance, "Dance baby dance, look at 'em dance. Yeeha, ride 'em cowboy !!!" And then in the comedies he shoots his own foot too, except that this time it isn't funny. He shot the fans in the foot, Belmont Park, the Triple Crown, the horses and crew in the detention barn, the writers, and ultimately possibly his own organization. I've been eating cookies as a tribute to the O'Neil barn and I'll Have Another but I still have a sour taste in my mouth, and it's really irrelevant even if IHA wasn't injured because of the detention barn. It just caused unnecessary discomfort, confinement, confusion, chaos and a negative vibe for the Belmont Stakes, and there is no bigger stage in racing when a Triple Crown is on the line. There is no joy in Mudville, mighty Sabini has struck out.

09 Jun 2012 11:15 AM
Linda in Texas

Steve, don't give up. The rest of the horses and owners had nothing to do with what happened. The barn change to others was just as discouraging, ridiculous and uncalled for,

Remember we have to make lemonade out of lemons. This race will be

talked about for decades and the

story of I'll Have Another and you

need to be right in the middle of the stories that will be going around the track no doubt.

You have a tremendous talent of

extracting the visceral of anything and anyone you encounter.

No one does it better than you.

The story needs to be told the way only you have the writing ability to do.

Thank you Steve.

09 Jun 2012 11:29 AM

I too am disgusted but for different reasons then Mr. Haskin. I see it all as just another black eye on racing. The hints of the trainer doping his horses (I believe I read 4 incidences have been "reported")was enough to turn me off of IHA and his connections.  I can't help but feel there is something else at work here. I also think it's a tad idiotic to have the horse in the post parade - for what? If he's injured he should be headed back home for treatment and rest. Not exposed to all the noise and crowds and potential injuries.I don't TRUST racing any more and I have been a fan for 50+ years. I have seen all the great ones. I take my vacations in Lexington to visit the farms. Until racing cleans up it's act it will continue to lose steam and fans. This is just the latest debachle that has people shaking their heads.

09 Jun 2012 11:37 AM

Reddam said horses with bowed tendons never compete at the level they did before the injury - thus the retirement of IHA. Ron Ellis, who knows how Reddam loves to race, hopes he'll reconsider if, after time, the injury proves truly minor. If, as Dr. Bramblage described it, the injury is similar to an ankle sprain, one hopes Reddam rethinks this as the healing process develops if the injury proves not that severe. Hopefully - or maybe I should say I hope against hope -the business of dollars from breeding that has led to so many early retirements that I'd certainly use Steve's word "disgust" to describe won't trump all other considerations in the case of a Reddam horse. As for future episodes of Triple Crown "disgust" - if I expand how Steve used the word - with what drugs, breeding exclusively for speed, and early retirements have done to racing - there will be sadly many more episodes forthcoming. The brittleness of horses and the infrequency with which they race today is enough to make one weep. Having seen the Buckpassers, the Kelsos, a Damascus, the Dr.Fagers, the Foregos, a Cougar 11 and the last three Triple Crown winners run, I live in perpetual nostalgia for a return of racing to those days though I have little hope they'll ever return.

09 Jun 2012 12:04 PM

Looks like your disgust was for real reasons, Mr. Haskin. I loved I'll Have Another and now my interest in the Belmont stakes is about nil. I was so looking forward to his running and hopefully! winning the Triple Crown. Of all the comments I have read from the other trainers, Dale Romans has been the most sympathetic, the most kind. I will root for Dullahan based on that. And I like his Shackleford too. And the press will never stop focusing on the drugging fiascoes in Throughbred racing until the drugging goes away, forever. This should be a top priority for all involed in this sport.

09 Jun 2012 12:17 PM

Truly one of the most disheartening Triple Crown series in memory - although Charismatic's leg fracture at the end of the Belmont was a nightmare. I'm sure Mensa won't be chasing down any of the members of the state boards who were involved in this whole fiasco in order to present any awards. Not sure about the decision to retire I'll Have Another. Have to wonder if it was motivated by concern for the horse's welfare or money. Railbird, not sure who would want New York! Although, being from Boston, I have to admit to a slight bias. Thanks again, Steve, for hangin' with us through all of this.

09 Jun 2012 12:42 PM

Thank you for answering that question.

And many thanks for your stellar work through this whole run--you made it come alive.

Horses.  They break your heart.

09 Jun 2012 12:50 PM

Amen Steve!

09 Jun 2012 12:52 PM
Pedigree Ann

From the Blood-Horse:

"It is still a relatively minor injury," said Bramlage, who did not examine the horse himself but did consult with trainer Doug O’Neill’s veterinarian Dr. Jim Hunt. "This is a slow-healing injury; he could take a year to fully recover. Because he is a stallion prospect, that could hurt his value. If he was a gelding, he would have likely made a come-back."

Read more on BloodHorse.com: www.bloodhorse.com/.../ill-have-anothers-injury-is-minor-but

Seabiscuit came back after a year off for a tendon injury to win the Santa Anita H. But that was the 1930s when racehorses were racehorses and not stud prospects.

09 Jun 2012 1:45 PM
Soldier Course

Speaking of word usage, it irked me when Doug O'Neill referred to the scratching of I'll Have Another as a "bummer". Bummer is a rained-out family picnic. In the words of one news commentator yesterday, this is the most devastating scratch in the history of horse racing. How shallow can you get?

09 Jun 2012 2:08 PM

Amen  Steve.

After the news  yesterday the first words that flew out of my mouth were that I hated my horse racing passion.

Honestly, the way the whole Belmont saga has played out rings of our national political system.  Its been mishandled and media hyped to such great proportions its hard to stomach.

I'll watch the Belmont as always.  At the same time I will be thinking about what could have been a glorious triumph for I'll Have Another and racing in general.

Don't think there is going to be a whole new set of fans thanks to the media negativity and outcome of the actual Belmont race.

I will certainly miss seeing I'll Have Another.  We were almost there.

09 Jun 2012 2:24 PM
Rachel O

If Union Rags had beaten IHA today, I would have felt sad and glad at the same time. If he wins today I'll still be glad/sad. I began to love I'll Have Another more and more each day and wanted him to win--sort of. But I do hope Union Rags wins, for many reasons, mainly because he is so very special--and for all his connections, too.

09 Jun 2012 3:00 PM

Racing runs out of luck, again. Steve, thanks for another wonderful ride over the past six or so months, its 'unfortunate' that we 'won't be having another' Triple Crown winner but there is always next year.

As for today's Belmont Stakes, its still a great race and good luck to all.

09 Jun 2012 4:05 PM

You're right, Steve, disgust perfectly sums up this situation. I am heartbroken...

09 Jun 2012 4:50 PM
Criminal Type

WOOOO HOOOO ! ! ! YES !!! UNION RAGS WINS THE BELMONT !!!!! Cant get a mile and a half huh ?

09 Jun 2012 6:46 PM

But you say again, "at watching IHA walk from Barn 2 back to Barn 9 looking fantastic and walking totally sound." If you have something to say, you should say it; not beat around the bush. If you believe that IHA was sound enough to race and something else is gong on, then say it. If not, then you should know that quotes like the one above and the use of the word "disgust" imply that you believe something isn't right. Your audience deserves better.

09 Jun 2012 8:15 PM
Tiara Terces

Thanks Steve for your memorable coverage of this Triple Crown season.  

Despite the disappointment, like a Cub's fan, I can't wait for next year although like so many,  

I really felt a terrible letdown. After further consideration, I believe IHA's scratch was the best thing to shut the mouths of those who want to claim everything affilitated with horse racing is cruel and unusual punishment for defenseless animals.

If they had their way, we wouldn't be able to see these beautiful creatures. I am struck by how splendid they are whether they are a champion or have very little talent for racing.

I would like to suggest two ideas which, like most of my suggestions in other venues, will probably get no response. #1 At least for the big races, why don't they have a "horse show" and declare the best looking specimens for first, second and third ribbons based on their appearance in the walking ring and post parade.  I know it sounds absurd to the serious bettors, but I think it would attract a lot of interest for the general public. It would also be illuminating to see how the expert judges' opinions compare to the horse's results in the race.

#2 Let's return to a Triple Crown bonus for the horse who accrues the most points.  This would encourage more trainers and owners to participate in all three races.  After all, that is the great challenge that helps in the improvement of the breed

 Finally, let's take heart. The holy grail awaits us next spring.  "Hope springs eternal in the human heart."

09 Jun 2012 8:34 PM

Tx for clarifying your comment 'disgusting'.  I love your blogs for many reasons but thoughout the whole media lynching  of Doug ONeil, I was reminded how your reporting is always about the horse & how you never get into the type of reporting we've been subjected to recently. I finally had to stop reading blogger comments on a certain site because I couldn't stand the negativity & personal attacks. (and people hoping IHA would lose the Belmont, based on his connections...).

Your comment about the heartbreak at watching IHA walk back to Barn 9 says it all. That and the pic I caught of DO w/ his head down & shoulders slumped said it all. Say what you will, Team ONeil has been the epitomy of class thru out.

09 Jun 2012 11:17 PM

If the horse is not sound enough to run that distance a scratch is a good thing. Why retire? He could heal? Is all the media attention starting to make people over react? Did those heavy leg wraps in the mud help cause the injury? Last I read he had a team of people to rub him down like a prizefighter. Did they rub him the wrong way? What a circus!

10 Jun 2012 2:42 AM
Criminal Type

I would just like to touch base with those of you who thought Union Rag's could not get a mile and a half and the distance limitations being placed on his sire's pedigree.....Really ?? Dixieland Band's dam, Mississipi Mud won the Matchmaker at 1 1/8 miles and was second by a nose to the great Our Mim's(full sister to Alydar) in the Delaware Handicap (1.25m) while carrying 7 more pounds then her opponent. Too Bald is there with her sons Capote and Exceller. Seattle Slew, Delta Judge, Morthern Dancer, Raise a Native, Nearctic, Natalma, Noor, Nasrulla, Bull Lea (how many Derby winners did he sire? was it 3 or 4? Oh yea, a Triple crown winner too in Citation). His pedigree reads like a virtual who's who of thoroughbred racing. Anyone with anything other then tunnel vision would have seen this and given the horse a lot more credit then he got from most people. A few of us saw it and never lost faith in this horse. Now that he has proven he can get a classic distance, he will be more highly regarded when he moves on to the Haskell, Traves, JCGC and BCC, all with Johnny Velazquez in the saddle. Congrats to M. Matz, Mr & Mrs Wyeth, Fair Hill and all the connections and especially to Union Rag's for providing us with a thrilling finish. To those of you who think Bodemeister and Paynter will be flying east to challange Rag's at the Travers, good luck with that. They have not faired to well at the graveyard of champions. The BCC however, could be a much differnt story.

10 Jun 2012 7:55 AM

a sublime writer, I get it, but let's note that Mr. Haskin ain't too shabby when it comes to handicapping[and doing it through workouts and appearance]! Thanks, Steve, but let's keep it between us.Leftovers you nailed the first 4!

10 Jun 2012 8:09 AM

Dr. D:  I will probably remain regretfully sad at the lack of another Triple Crown winner.  But then, I have gotten to see some of the greatest...and I'm ever so grateful for that.  And Slew and Citation were always #1 for me.  And before anyone jumps on me over the immortal Secretariat, let me say...he wasn't a horse; he was a brilliant creature from another planet...a meteoric gift to help us keep our faith in possibilities.

The NYRA was sinking and borrowed state tax money....first mistake.  Then 18 horses suffer fatal breakdowns at NY Tracks in a 3 month period,(second black eye) and the governor has to step in. Then the state CPA's discover the NYRA withheld millions of dollars from bettors (third mistake).  When the state's investigators get involved in the Belmont...they set up the detention barn, under the guise of protecting the betting public.  The NYRA was a catastropic 3 ring circus before IHA ever stepped a hoof at Belmont. And the NYRA seems determined to implode on itself.  

As to the Belmont...the horse I said couldn't get 10f let alone 12f...the horse I said would find himself in trouble in a one horse race...the horse I said lacked the courage to split front running horses even if the gap was big enough for a Mack truck...that horse...runs clean, squeezes into a tight spot scraping paint off the rail, and still has enough gas left in the tank to head MY favorite, Paynter, at the wire.  Congratulations to Union Rags.  He's finally grown up and has shown us who he truly is.  This truly was a jockey's race, but the horses were undeniably great.  I can't fault the top 3, or 4, or 5, but was a shade disappointed in Dullahan.  

And I still love horse racing, and can't wait for Saratoga.  May the humans involved in this awesome sport find at least half the integrity, courage, willingness, and honesty of the 4 legged stars of our hearts.

10 Jun 2012 9:37 AM
Tiz Herself

Am amazed again at the 'brilliant' (using that word sarcastically) coverage of NBC of the Belmont Stakes. From what I watched (and I did watch it through from start to finish) they did not show the retirement ceremony of I'll Have Another (or I missed it)... I am glad there was the slide show of pictures on the Blood Horse site...

another comment I had is when they were listing the now 12 horses since Spectacular Bid to fall short of their Triple Crown bid, they listed everyone with the exception of Alysheba... that kind of hurt a little. While I was too young to have watched Alysheba's run, I do rewatch the replays and can appreciate the horse that he was. Has Alysheba been truly forgotten? Not by me he has not.

I respect the I'll Have Another team for doing what's right by the horse. By putting the horse's welfare above all else. We'll never know if it was the detention barn or the soft sandy surface of the Belmont Stakes or a recurring injury that he had as a two-year-old. I am thankful to have not seen him breakdown on the track as that likely would have done it for me as a fan. Looking forward to seeing little I'll Have Anothers.

10 Jun 2012 10:07 AM

Criminal Type, Union Rags, what a great run.  Thankfully I will not have to go on and on anymore about his ability to get the distance.  Distance is all over the tail side of his pedigree.  I have loved this horse since before his maiden win, and he won the test of the champion.  Yahooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!

10 Jun 2012 11:53 AM

Cris, I agree with you.

10 Jun 2012 12:03 PM
Karen in Texas

Pedigree Ann,

The connections clearly stated that in addition to stud value, the decision was based on the probability that IHA would never return to his present level of ability on the track.

Seabiscuit had a damaged suspensory ligament according to everything I've ever read. Ligaments and tendons are different anatomically and physiologically. Tendons basically join muscle to bone; ligaments join bone to bone. The inflammatory process that comprises the diagnosis of tendonitis tends to recur. They made a fair decision for the horse.

10 Jun 2012 12:36 PM

I was (and am) so down about the whole Belmont situation I nearly did not watch the race yesterday.

The breakdown of Giant Ryan in one of the undercard races did not help my frame of mind.

That said, while I am not a particular fan of the colt, it was good to see Union Rags win for his many very faithful fans. I am glad they got their day and that their faith in the colt was rewarded. Maybe this will be a big step towards even bigger and brighter things for him.

Still...I feel gutted. Just gutted.

I cannot even imagine how awful the I'll Have Another team and those who have gotten close to them over the last few weeks feel.

Times like this make me question my own love for the sport.

I also hope that the nonsense with the detention barn is not a pre-view of possible similar stupidity with the Breeder's Cup, which if I recall correctly is due to be run at Belmont next year?

I just want to thank you Steve for your superb coverage year after year on the sport. You take those of us who do not have access to the backside to the sides of the horses which is beyond value for those of us who love them.

I can tell that this has been hard on you, too.

((((((((((hugs)))))))))) for you and for everyone else who is hurting over this situation.

10 Jun 2012 1:31 PM
The Deacon

Union Rags running a 2:30 and change for the Belmont off slow fractions by Paynter. That's about 30 lenghts slower then Secretariat's Belmont. Awesome huh, not sure he got the distance, he just happened to staggered home first in front of the rest of them. What could have been an historic day turned out to be the biggest downer I have ever felt in horse racing...........loved your writing Steve.

Dr: D. Cookies and milk ain't strong enough for me........

10 Jun 2012 2:10 PM
Karen in Texas

Amen, Deacon.

10 Jun 2012 2:58 PM

OKay for me the year is over, do not have the same or interest anymore till next Jan. Glad to see Rags win, just a few insights, he beat a horse coming of 120 beyer figure, beat a horse who had everything his own way,didn't really start running till he was up in hole, had the strongest pedigree on mothers side of anyone in field, two runners had won at mile n half,everyone knows strenght of family is on the mothers side, stallion owners try to make u think is the stud but that is not the case, really upset over IHA, loved that horse,owner is great jockey superb individual, trainer, you can have him, to many issues and to many spins on this story,one minute he is scratched and retired and next minute oh he could of raced, When your backside peers put a label on you,it is hard to shake, and when u work the backside everyone has pretty good idea what is going on, grooms talk ex employees talk, i suppose in a matter of time we may here what really happened, something is missing here.

10 Jun 2012 3:45 PM
Soldier Course

Union Rags was my first choice for the three Triple Crown races. After he lost the Derby and I'll Have Another won the Preakness, I supported the latter's bid for the Triple Crown. Then disaster fell. But yesterday ended on a joyful note afterall, even if it was bittersweet. How wonderful to see Phyllis Wyeth in the Winner's Circle, finally realizing her dream for her horse. All Thoroughbred owners should have her heart. It came shining through.

There are "What Ifs". But history never reveals its alternative. And that's probably a good thing.

10 Jun 2012 4:08 PM
Union Buster

I'll Have Another would have won this race by 15-20 lengths or more. union rags proved nothing other than he still hasn't gotten better since last year. This may be the weakest Belmont in history,none of the horses rags faced had ever won a graded stakes on dirt. He barely beat Paynter who threw a shoe and was the 5th or 6th stringer from the west coast. rags will not win another race this year unless he gets lucky and faces another inexperienced field like he did Saturday. He barely best Atigun who had never before been close on the dirt in a graded stakes. Another telling aspect was that Unstoppable U went off at 11/1 and was in only his third race and had never been over 1 mile, he should have been 40/1 or higher in a competitive race. This field was a real letdown and the Belmont lost alot of its luster and that will not come back if they continue to attract a bunch of non-winners on dirt in graded stakes and a bunch of NY Allowance horses. The fact the race was so weak adds to my argument that they should never give a race a graded value until after the year is over and we see who actually ran. If this was true this years Belmont would be a G3 at best.  

On a lighter note I hit a $5.00 superfecta keying Paynter who would have won had he not thrown a shoe. Now I can move on knowing for a fact rags won't win if he faces better and I'll have the money of those foolish enough to think he can.

10 Jun 2012 4:43 PM
Union Buster

PS to Criminal Type, they all got the mile and a half and all of them ran slow including the winner.

rags didn't run like a star he ran like a G3 against nobody who had ever won a graded stakes on dirt. Somebody had to win and when Paynter threw the shoe it left it for rags to barely catch him.

10 Jun 2012 4:47 PM
Criminal Type

Deacon, If anyone was staggering home it was Dullahan. You must have lost a lot of money to be so bitter over Union Rag's win.

10 Jun 2012 4:51 PM
Paula Higgins

o.k. wait a minute. Doug O'Neill should not have been banned from racing anymore than Pletcher or Asmussen, et. al. My biggest complaint about O'Neill is that he ran horses that didn't have the talent to race. One died. He talked about that on NBC and admitted he used poor judgment. He feels he has matured where he wouldn't make that mistake again. He has never been accused of illegal drugging of his horses (like Rick Dutrow). Primarily it was milkshaking. This last episode wasn't even milkshaking according to the investigators. He was 1 point over the allowable limit so they suspended him. He handled every single question about drugs, sanctions etc. with grace and class. Steve was right. It was merciless and disgusting. I do believe they did the right thing by taking IHA out if the Belmont. They had no choice. If something had happened or he had a significat tendon injury after the race, we know the media and the NYRA would have been all over him and the owner. There would have been an investigation and who knows what the outcome would have been. As for retiring him, I would have waited for the sake of the sport, if his condition  allowed him to race again. But Karen is right, tendonitis has a nasty tendency to reoccur. However, it wasn't my decision to make. I feel terrble about the comment Bob Costas made to him about the fact that Penny Chenery stated publicly that it was terrible that Reddam let Doug O'Neill train IHA. It was extremely hurtful, as O'Neill said himself in response to the question. He said he tried to reach out to Penny with no response back. Here is the bottom line, it is just plain wrong for anyone to make comments like that to the public. If drugging and milkshaking and all the other things that trainers have done to gain an advantage were laid on the table, John Shirreffs, Michael Matz and a few others would be the only ones training horses. The solution is: cite them, fine them and if necessary, suspend them until they get the message. Pletcher, Asmussen, O'Neill have all gotten the message. To treat Doug O'Neill differently is just rubbish. I will say it again. John Shirreffs would be the trainer I would chose if I had a top class horse. My final comments: congratulations to Michael Matz and Phyllis Wyeth. I was so happy for both of them. Union Rags was a very deserving winner and the jockey change was the right thing to do. I hope he is getting back to his 2 year old form. The Deacon: c'mon lets be fair. Is it really fair to compare any horse to Secretariat? They run their hearts out for us and do the best they can so we can have 2+ minutes of excitement. Union Rags did just fine.

10 Jun 2012 4:54 PM
Criminal Type

Bustard, give it a rest. He won, get over it.

10 Jun 2012 5:48 PM
Scott's Cause

I am sure/hope you will take a well needed break.  What a campaign youv'e had in the last 3-4 months.  Thanx Steve for everything.  I did watch the B.S. and was truly pleased with what UR accomplished.  Got the distance, stayed on the inside, persevered and sustained.  But THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL, that Union Rags would have beaten I'll Have Another...Period, Period, Period............

10 Jun 2012 6:36 PM

Mr. Haskin--I can certainly understand why you used the word "disgust" in you blog.  I will add to it by using the word to express my feelings on how terrible NBC's telecast of the Belmont Stakes was.  Aside from the usual "fluff" pieces, the coverage of I'll Have Another's retirement ceremony in the Winner's Circle was a quick glimpse of the horse that was shown after a commercial break.  The ever popular line "...and this just happened minutes ago..." was used.  UH??  After yesterday's broadcast was done, I turned to my husband and told him how much I missed Jim McKay and the broadcasts he did of the Triple Crown with Al Michaels.

Just a sidenote:  So how come the Govenor of New York did not present the trophy?  How sad...

10 Jun 2012 6:59 PM

Deacon: As I said, Secretariat was from another planet.  2:24.  The only horse to come closest was Easy Goer who did it in 2:26:00. Next is AP Indy in 2:26:13, Risen Star 2:26:40, Point Given, Tabasco Cat and Affirmed in 2:26:80. No one else ran under 2:27, including all the other TC Winners.

Don't forget...These colts are still babies, still developing. Johnny V and Union Rags deserve credit for winning.  The Pace itself was set by Mike Smith on Paynter who slowed the pace down after the first quarter.  I really can't fault the first 3 finishers and their jockeys.  So why take all the pot shots at them now.

Now is the time we start looking forward once again...the Haskell, the Travers, etc..lots of good racing to be had before the BC.

The Belmont was definitely not a "downer" for me.  The lowest downers for me were Go For Wand, Eight Bells, Ruffian, Barbaro, Rewilding...real downers.  But I suppose it's a matter of perspectives.  

10 Jun 2012 7:51 PM

Union Buster, the pace was slow and Union Rags could have pressed it, or any other horse for that matter.  Union Rags has won races pressing the pace, so your critism is just so unfounded.  Actually, a faster pace would have benefited Union Rags tremendously.  

Paynter, he did not have to fight traffic; all he did was set the pace, so throwing a shoe, whatever.

Criminal Type, yes I think some people lost a little money, so let them vent.

A lot of horses are intimidated running on the rail, so Union Rags showed his courage and his will to win.  He's a beautiful horse with a lovely pedigree.  

10 Jun 2012 7:56 PM
Uncle Smiley


You had the shape of that race 99 and 44/100 right!


10 Jun 2012 7:57 PM

Union Rags is the product of a thoughtfully planned breeding program.  The Wyeth's have worked very hard to create a strong, sound horse.  Union Rags galloped out of the Belmont like he wasn't finished running.

If IHA had been in the race and not pressed the pace, the result would have been the same, Union Rags wins.  He likes the Belmont track, he won there in the Champagne.

10 Jun 2012 8:03 PM

hank, I agree something is missing.

10 Jun 2012 8:06 PM

The Deacon, like I said, Paynter had an easy ride on the lead, and no other horse pressed him.  Union Rags has won a race pressing the pace, but he decided to lay back and wait to make his move.

Sham pressed Secretariat, and that is why Secretariat won the Belmont in record time.  Union Rags would have benefited greatly from a faster pace; i.e. he would have won by a pretty large margin. It's time to face the truth, UR is a great horse.

10 Jun 2012 8:11 PM
The Deacon

Criminal Type: Didn't bet on the race, wasn't speaking of Dullahan, obviously any horse behind Union Rags staggered home, duh!!!

What's your point here? I don't dislike Rags, just made an observation. Funny, folks in the business said the same thing. It was a fast track, 2:30.2 isn't what I would call epic. He won, he deserved it, still doesn't change anything. Rags may have finished 3rd behind "Big Red" in 1973 since Red won that race by 31 lenghts.

Paynter, threw a shoe, had only 4 races and was asked to run 12 furlongs, I thought he represented himself well. Rags should have won, remember he is supposed to be the monster horse since last year.

Don't attack someone because they make a point, that is beneath you. Draynay is gone, don't bring him back........

10 Jun 2012 8:24 PM

People, including his connections, seem to be  talking about two different injuries.

It appears that IHA has an inflamed tendon, which is a repetitive strain injury. With that and a night in the ice bucket he could have run and won -- I've said it before: old time horses weren't sounder, they just ran them more when they were sore.

But then we have people talking about a bowed tendon, or its preliminary, which is an actual tear in the fibre of the tendon. This is the injury which would have kept him out until next year and from which horses do not return as good as they used to be.

The tendon is constantly stretched, so the torn fibres spring apart and never join back up, just healing in a random tangle. Horse exercises, crosswise fibres tear again, heal again, until enough of them are aligned in the right direction to stand up to use.

It's generally agreed that I'll Have Another works hard at his work. He came up to the Belmont on what could be described as daily slow works rather than galloping. Take a lesson: horses are injury-prone at the extremes, but also with constant repetition. If IHA had replaced some of those gallops with a brisk jog twice around, he'd probably have been fine.

Those too-long pasterns that O'Neill says kept his purchase price down increase the stress on the tendons. Maybe their awareness of that made them more likely to think of this little swelling as a warning.

10 Jun 2012 8:26 PM
Mike Monarchos

Union Rags got the Belmont distance! Big deal! He finally had no trouble in a race and still barely won in a very slow time of 2:30,50 and received a whopping 95 Beyer! That must be the lowest winning Beyer speed figure for a Belmont winner in history. I'll Have Another would have won that race by 10 lengths! Secretariat would have won by 33. We'll probably never see another Triple Crown Winner, especially if New York has anything to say about it. They want to destroy horse racing like they've destroyed their state. And that's the truth.

10 Jun 2012 8:41 PM
Karen in Texas

Cassandra.Says----Although I do not recall hearing any mention of it during the initial press conference, Dr. Bramlage stated during the broadcast yesterday that there were, in fact, "a few" torn fibrils in the inflamed tendon. It caught my attention....

10 Jun 2012 9:11 PM
Mister Frisky

For every speculation that Rags could not have beaten IHA on the square,there is just as many if not more that believes anybody but Frenchy in Fl  and Ky Derbys and IHA might be an after thought.There is one for certain UR is the real deal and only one left of this crop that can challenge older horses.I commend IHA,very nice 4 race win streak.I actually wish he made the race since I loved UR and the payouts would have been nice.For the future IHA lands maybe Japan or OZ.UR stallion career will be limitless.Big strong looker,G1 winner at 2, classic winner at 3.The top mares will be lining up around the block for a few seconds with this stud.

10 Jun 2012 9:56 PM

What was up with Dullahan, looked like they didn't even try in this race. With the exception of him, Steve, you were all over this race!

Congrats to all the Union Rags supporters and believers, whom I never agreed with that he would get a distance of ground. Boy was I wrong. No distance limitations in this horse.

They were right to not train Rags at Belmont coming up to this race, and maybe the opposite was true for IHA. I have to wonder if this track wasn't his undoing and can't help but wonder if they had brought him in just before the race if he may have been able to run. Too bad, we'll never know what might have been.

Anyway, maybe someday we'll see "Another Another" show up and do what his daddy didn't get a chance to do.

11 Jun 2012 12:36 AM

Got to agree with some of you re the slow time. How much slower could they have run? 2:30 is pathetic especially since the track was not playing that slow.

I think it is a product of too much raceday meds for too many years that has produced a weaker slower more fragile breed in general. the horses are so tender that trainers are afraid to train them hard enough to get them fit.

If you put 12 drunks in a race you can be sure that a drunk will win. but that does not make the winner a quality athlete. thats what the Belmont looked like a bunch of drunks staggering slowly around.

I think IHA could have beat that bunch with one hoof tied behind his back. Sad.

11 Jun 2012 1:08 AM

I didn't see anything in the Belmont that convinced me that I'll Have Another wouldn't have gotten the 3rd jewel in the crown, no disrespect to the other horses. I still think, had this happened yesteryear, IHA would've ran. I'm not suggesting he should have, I'm just saying. IHA had the first signs, or the beginning of tendonitis, that means to me that it would've healed within 3 to 6 monthes, more than likely in time for the Breeder's Cup in the fall. They are having wonderful results treating this type of problem with stem cells, and money isn't an issue in this case. I'm going to pound on this again, why retire such a talented colt? He is 3, a baby. I think it's foolish. The sport doesn't need more breeding, it needs more outstanding champion horses. I simply don't understand the logic of it. At least they leave geldings on the track long enough for fans to acknowledge them. Desert Orchid had fans all over the world. THAT is what the sport needs to revive itself, a connection between the fans and the horses. I wish you a long happy life I'll Have Another. I'm sure your offspring will be adorable, and some may very well grow up to be grade 1 winners. Your awesome talent however, was wasted.

11 Jun 2012 1:27 AM

Slew, and you would probably agree, A. P. Indy could have run a much faster time. For those who have never seen this Belmont Stakes, take a look, watch Edward Delahoussaye extract the great A. P. Indy from trouble by giving ground so he can go around horses.

A. P. Indy was never going to loose the race at any time, A. P. Indy was a true 12 furlong horse. There is a difference.

Union Rags' connections are great embassadors for the  sport of horse racing, what a marvellous win.  

11 Jun 2012 3:20 AM
Mister Frisky

@The Deacon,Comparing UR time to Big Reds time just shows your bitterness and lack of knowledge of this sport.Secretariats Belmont was the probably the single greatest race ever run in the history of racing.Slew only went a second faster than UR in his Belmont.I you were smart you could have made a few bucks keying UR in the super.A true gift from the gambling gods.You are probably bummed out you don't have that commorative 2$ win ticket on IHA.

11 Jun 2012 9:31 AM
Union Buster

criminal type,

Nothing for me to get over, I won nearly 5 grand with my super bet. My point was there was nothing in the race for him to beat but the west coast 5th or 6th stringer Paynter who was clearly going to run 1 or 2 and would have won but for losing a shoe and jockey error. If anything rags lost respect by barely beating Paynter and Atigun who had never been closer than 5th in a graded dirt stakes.


slow pace, slow finish. rags wasn't burning up the track at the end he ran his last 1/2 in 51 seconds. his 6f were 1:14.8, mile 1:39.6 really sad for a 2 yr old champ, there are 2500 claimers who run those fractions and finish just as slow. If he was so good he would have finished much faster after starting out so slow. Keep betting him, when he faces some better I'll gladly take your money at the window.

11 Jun 2012 10:02 AM
Pedigree Ann

THe Belmont confirmed something that I have suspected for a while now. Union Rags is described as a big, beautiful horse with a long stride. As such, he likely finds Belmont, with its low-arc turns, easier to negotiate than those of mile ovals; he doesn't need to shorten stride to retain his balance on the turns. Easy Goer was one who ran best at Belmont; the Frankel older mare Sightseek was another - both big, long-striding horses.

And for the record, I seem to remember I said that Union Rags was one who could go either way on pedigree; if he stayed you could see where it came from and if he didn't you could also see why.

PS. Paynter was beaten 4 lengths by I'll Have Another in the SA Derby. He was beaten a neck by Union Rags. That still makes I'll Have Another, Creative Cause, and Bodemeister several lengths better than Rags. Just saying before anybody gets too excited.

11 Jun 2012 10:18 AM

Pedigree Ann, the SA Derby is run on a different surface, and so you can't compare Belmont and Santa Anita.  Actually Union Rags, because he is so large and it takes him a while to get going, would have benefited greatly with a faster pace, but no horse was up there pressing Paynter.  IHA would likely not have pressed it, therefore the result would have been the same.        

Union Rags was bred to run this distance, as you know the tail side of his pedigree has distance all over it, and I believe he would have prevailed, regardless of the horses running.

I am the one who said that distance would not be problem with Union Rags, thanks to his dam, Tempo.

11 Jun 2012 11:44 AM

Pom De Terre, I agree with you on Doug O'Neill.  Hopefully the industry will straighten up its act, so that the fan-base does not dwindle away into obscurity.

11 Jun 2012 11:53 AM
Mister Frisky

@Pedigree Ann,I always look forward to and respect your posts.But you know comparing margins of defeat mean nothing.UR already finished ahead of CC in last years BC juvy.UR 8 career starts NEVER passed in the stretch.And if all the people who think a jock doesn't make all the difference think again.I'm from So Cal I will be there for the BC.If UR makes the gate he will clown those west coast horses.I believe Steve Haskin himself said UR was the horse to beat even with IHA in the race.I will yield to the expert.

11 Jun 2012 11:53 AM
Mister Frisky

Steve,Thanks for the heads up on Atigun.I threw him in at the last minute thanks to your assessment on how he looked in the flesh.

11 Jun 2012 12:08 PM

Everytime someone wants to point out how frail our horses have become (I don't entirely disagree), I tend to think about Tapitsfly going the mile in 1:32.  Gio Ponti racing into age 7, (and he is a full stallion), Zen was still running at age 6, Einsten, also a stallion, running on at age 7, always pursuing Lava Man's record.  We've had some great durable horses...but the fans tend to follow that flashy milers and forget about the real campaigners.

As to Slew's Belmont time...he ran in a swamp and still won by 4 lengths in 2:29:60.

Alydar pressed Affirmed in each leg of the TC, including the Belmont.  But an injured Sham never pressed Secretariat in the Belmont...how could he, considering Secretariat was 31 lengths ahead. Sham finished last in that race, after trying to press on the back stretch...and Secretariat set the world record for 12f.

Do I think IHA would have won this race...absolutely...if he was 100%.  But he wasn't, and wasn't in the race, and Union Rags won it fairly.  And Rags didn't set the pace; he stalked it.

Davids: Loved AP Indy.  He had a high cruising speed, and a good turn of foot.  But...the Belmont is a race won by grinders.  And he was one of the best...and a royal child considering his pedigree.  And he sired a dynasty comparable to his sire, the Slew.

11 Jun 2012 12:27 PM

Ho-hum is right.  Not a Grade 1 winner on the dirt to be found.  Dull-A-Han!, Paynter with an allowance win to his credit throws a shoe and due to poor riding (what is Baffert thinking with Smith) loses the Belmont.  Mike thought the third place finisher coming on the outside was Union Rags so he shifts out leaving a hole on the rail.  

Can't wait for the Union Rags, Game on Dude, Bodemeister Breeder's Cup Classic showdown at Santa Anita.  G.O.D. is quite capable of running a sub 2:00 over that surface.  

11 Jun 2012 12:40 PM

In the wake of Union Rags' victory, Mary is having her day of vindication. I'm remembering back to one of Jason's columns before the Derby when she cautioned me to take a closer look at the tail end of his pedigree before dismissing him as a Dixie Union colt with distance limitations. I publicly acknowledged that I'd heed that word of caution in the blog and took a closer look at the dam side of his pedigree. My re-evaluation caused me to jump on the UR bandwagon for the Triple Crown as I liked the colt to begin with but just thought that he'd end up competing with the Caleb Posses and Jackson Bends at the 7 furlong, mile, and mile and a sixteenth distances. The Uncle Mo affair of 2011, perhaps, over influenced me in coming to this judgment about Union Rags. Was sorry Union Rags was taken out of the Derby so early by the poor break, the bumping, and the squeeze back at the start, and then the steady in the backstretch when Daddy Longlegs stopped in front of him. Still UR finished up well despite all the trouble coming in seventh in the twenty horse field. Hearkening back to Garrett Gomez's three bad trips on Lookin at Lucky, I thought a jockey change was in order after the two troubled Derby trips and could not have been more pleased that Matz went to Johnny Velasquez for the Belmont. As for the actual run of the race, I thought It was highly ironic that it was Julien Leparoux on Atigun who seemed to have Union Rag's destiny in his hands as he pinned UR against the rail, forcing Velasquez to idle until Smith gave him the rail hole that won the horse the race. Watching race replays, it looked like Leparoux was riding almost as much to deny UR the victory than to win the race. To be fair to Julien, Leparoux said he thought he was going to win the race and, thus, this was just clean race riding. Leparoux's a true professional who just was not a good match for this particular horse, Union Rags. It's hard though to completely dismiss the notion that there wasn't just a hint of personal feeling involved in his ride when he saw that he had the opportunity to possibly deny the horse he'd been taken off the race as his horse did not go on to run down Paynter, loose on the lead after easy early fractions. A completely detached professionalism is certainly put to the test in that kind of race circumstance where natural human emotion must be suppressed. If a little of it was allowed to surface, that's entirely understandable.

11 Jun 2012 12:57 PM
Smoking Baby

Pedigree Ann.  Good call.  Union Rags ran big no doubt (congrats to Rangulzion.  I totally thought about him as they crossed the wire) but it's a little early to say that race validated any early predictions about the monster horse.  I know I keep saying this but he sure is a looker.  And yes, I totally agree about Easy Goer and Sightseek. That filly simply HATED Santa Anita.

11 Jun 2012 1:03 PM
Karen in Texas

Whether we, the fans, agree with the decision to retire IHA or not, I don't understand the continued queries as to the reasons for doing so. Why? Mr. Reddam gave at least three reasons WHY within seconds of starting the press conference. He said that 1) the horse had "done enough"; 2) he had stud value now; 3) the horse would have very little chance of ever returning to his present level of excellence on the track. I believe he or O'Neill then added, "And we don't want to do that to him," or something close to that wording. Those are their reasons; it is not necessary for others to agree.

ksweatman9----It is now June. I'm not clear on how this injury can be resolved by October/November for the Breeders' Cup. He would not be able to train during those "3 to 6 months" you mention, and the time frame would be past the BC date at six months. Treatment, rest, rehab, and then reconditioning/training does not seem reasonable during this calendar year to me. (That would fit with their projected return date of spring, 2013.) Although I am semi-retired, I have been a healthcare practitioner for humans for over 30 years, and the Team IHA decision seems well within normal limits given the facts.  

11 Jun 2012 1:07 PM
Karen in Texas

By the way....did anyone else notice that Matz attributed UR's ability to get the distance to Terpsichorist/Nijinsky during a post race interview? Lots of discussion about that on another BH blog this spring. I saw the quote on Brisnet.

11 Jun 2012 2:03 PM
steve from st louis

History will prove that this is an ordinary group of 3-year-olds. Did Union Rags really get the mile and one-half? If you give them enough time, all of them can get the mile and one-half. Sadly, I'll Have Another was just the one-eyed man in the land of the blind.

11 Jun 2012 2:03 PM
Smoking Baby

 I think one handicapping lesson to be learned from the last two Triple Crown race results is that just because a horse comes running past tired horses at the end of the Derby does not necessarily make him the horse to beat next out.  So much was made of Went The Day Well and Dullahan after the Derby and look how they both fared next out?  

11 Jun 2012 2:13 PM
Ted from LA

I just watched Yentl and my cable bill just arrived so I am disgusted too.  Here is what I want to know.  When did the team get word he was "injured."  I heard from an insider with a different Derby horse that they knew "days" before the press conference.  I have no idea if she was correct, but that didn't sit well with Ted Bob.  Since I was traveling to get to NYC, I didn't know anything until my cell phone started lighting up.  If they knew earlier, they should have announced it.  Or did they want to make sure Ted from LA and thousands of other racing enthusiasts arrived in NY before they announced their little secret?  Either way, what a black eye.  All NYRA members should have to dress in full clown attire at next year's Belmont so we know who to yell at once we foolishly arrive again in 2013.  I am speaking for Bob from Boston on this too, so that should give me more street cred.

11 Jun 2012 2:27 PM

Well now I see the truth is starting to come out, this horse was trying to bow a tendon, this is why he is going to breeding shed smart move on their part, tendonitis is very repairable, bowed tendon no way, They must of been aware of this for awhile that is why all supposedly quick decsions, were really all thought out and decided before they took the lid of of it, Oneil was really tough on this horse, galloping him like a runaway frieght train, my horse gallops faster than, most horses train, he said as he was pumping his fist in air, bringum on, yeah another real, real good horse a memory, You want to take credit for traing him when he was doing good, you get the credit for having destroyed him. I loved this horse, and i also think very highly of Union Rags, don't make such an issue out of times,  Bafferts horse just came of 120 beyer figure. They only make for good disscussion class is what wins races. guess we will never know what would of happened in race that is t hyper thetical situation, only opinions, but I can see UR wininning his way out, Rember IHA didn't exactly destroy Bodedmister, be interesting when UR and he meet. if we can use that as barometer

11 Jun 2012 4:14 PM
Karen in Texas

Bob/Ted----It would be difficult to have KNOWN anything unless and until the scans/ultra-sounds or whatever diagnostics they used had been done. That occurred on Friday A.M. as far as I can tell. He apparently was not galloping with his characteristic gusto for 3-4 days, but the localized filling was not seen until Thursday P.M. per O'Neill. He was iced, etc., and the swelling had increased after his mild gallop on Friday A.M., at which point they called the vet(s). I don't know what diagnostic device they used, but Dale Romans' account said that his people called him to come down because something was going on with O'Neill's horse. I heard Romans say they had an ultra-sound in IHA's stall area by that time. I'm sure the IHA team was literally sick, knowing an announcement had to be made. Mr. Reddam had to hesitate during the conference to keep from crying. I, personally, don't think any of this is contrived.

11 Jun 2012 5:24 PM
Scott's Cause

IHA "wouldn't have pressed the pace so the results in the Belmont would have been the same".  Did I miss the Preakness where IHA was on Bodie's shoulder on the backstretch.  All I know is the stretch run in the Preakness looked like it was run in "Normal" time and the Belmont was in "Slow Motion".  IHA would have been sitting 3rd, moved with Atigun, engaged with Paynter and opened up.  The plodding Union Rags, 2nd or 3rd.  As far as sending one of my mares to IHA, no thanx.  I'm a Union guy.

11 Jun 2012 5:49 PM

Karen, I have been in the health profession 40 years. I often make the mistake that apparently you do on occasion, and that being people are not horses and the same rules do not apply. My reference to 3-6 monthes to heal the tendon condition would be WITHOUT agressive therapy. Stem cells are producing miraculous results in equine care. Point is, nothing is being tried in this case, and it leads me to believe IHA's connections never really intended to bring the colt back as a 4 year old. As far as frailty goes. If anyone doesn't think our thoroughbreds are grossly prone to injuries, they are not in touch with reality. Look at the European horses. Desert Orchid fell repeatedly, as in CRASH to the ground, they thought he was actually dead a few times, but he always came back. He lived to be 27, I believe, most beautiful thoroughbred I've ever seen, thick legs, a brick house. Our horses are frail, and it only seems to be getting worse. I don't have the answers, but it's a sad phenomenon to watch.

11 Jun 2012 5:54 PM

I think all has been said that can be said about the defection of IHA from the Belmont and of Steve Haskin's choice of the word "disgust".  I'm waiting (a little impatiently) for Steve's analysis of the Belmont and hoped I would find a new blog when I got home from work today.  Hopefully, he will provide his usual insightful comments.  For myself, I was thrilled with UR's victory.  Do I think he would have won had IHA been in the race?  The race time would tend to say "no", but had IHA run, the pace would have been different.  Johnny and Rags did what they had to do with what they had to work with.  Who knows if he could have gone faster had the pace been different.  One thing that can't be denied, is that when the hole opened, he was able to noticeably quicken and blast through the small opening.  This showed courage on the part of both horse and jockey and a wonderful turn of foot, especially at the end of a 12 furlong race. And UR galloped out like he could have gone around again.  This really should quiet the "distance limitation" naysayers.  

Speaking of which, my compliments to Slew for being a big enough person to admit her analysis of this horse and his pedigree was incorrect.  Thank you, Slew.

11 Jun 2012 6:44 PM
Steve Haskin

Robin, sorry, you'll have to wade through my long recap first before any analysis. The recap tonight, analysis later in the week.

11 Jun 2012 7:01 PM
Steve Haskin

For those who expressed interest in seeing the photo of Secretariat and Steve Jordan that Steve has taped to his desk (June 4 column), I have had it enhanced and inserted it in the column.

11 Jun 2012 7:07 PM
Karen in Texas

ksweatman9----I did not apply human rules to the horse. I am using the guideline that Larry Bramlage himself provided. Without seeing the scans or veterinary reports derived from them, it is not possible (for any of us) to create a plan of care that may or may not include the likes of stem cell therapy. I still don't believe the BC is a realistic goal timewise. If you believe you have something salient to suggest, why not contact Mr. Reddam or Doug O'Neill? Doug O'Neill Stable can be reached via e-mail or Facebook. We do not know what possibilities were explored with their veterinary team. O'Neill is certainly not ignorant regarding stem cell technology since it was employed by Lava Man's owners. Without corresponding with Mr. Reddam you/we have no idea what his intentions were. Who is disputing frailty, by the way?  

11 Jun 2012 7:44 PM
Soldier Course

The first news report I read about IHA being scratched stated that O'Neill had said on ESPN Radio late Thursday night that the horse would not run in the Belmont. The next day late morning he came out with the Friday morning developments version. So this discrepancy set up a suspicion that we weren't being told the whole story. Events earlier in the week, like the delay in moving IHA to the detention barn, make me wonder when the connections knew there was a problem.

11 Jun 2012 8:05 PM

Thanks for the recap, Steve and will look forward to your analysis.

11 Jun 2012 11:00 PM

Karen in Texas, Union Rags did get the distance from both Nijinsky and Secretariat.  Tempo, Union Rags dam, is by Gone West.  Gone West is out of the Secretariat mare, Secrettame.  Union Rags' grand dam is by Nijinsky.  These two triple crown winners are perfectly placed in the tail side of Union Rags pedigree.  In other words, Union Rags can run all day long, he was just getting started at the end of Belmont.  

11 Jun 2012 11:07 PM

Karen in Texas, I did notice that MM attributed Union Rags getting the distance to Nijinsky.  He was looking strictly at the tail-female line, but it is important to also look at the tail-sire line through the sire's daughters.  

Union Rags gets his stamina from his dam, Tempo through both her sire and her dam line.  

Nijinsky and Secretariat, two of the greatest horses of all time are simply perfectly placed on the tail side of Union Rags' pedigree.

11 Jun 2012 11:20 PM

Karen, I was under the impression that Bramlage was consulted, but did not actually examine the horse. There is nothing to debate or argue here, it's a mute point. They did what they wanted to do, I'll Have Another is their horse. However, I believe they had other options, that's all I'm saying, strictly my opinion. The time frame from discovery to the decision to retire did not allow for any options to be explored. Let me say this, I'm a horse lover, and I don't think most thoroughbreds enjoy being turned out to pasture at the age of 3, the only attention and excitement they'll get will be in the breeding shed. These horses are born to run, and champions like I'll Have Another are competitive, they love the game, they thrive on competition. I'm not just looking at this from a fan's viewpoint, but as an advocate for the horse. There is no upside to retiring a gifted 3 year old thoroughbred.

12 Jun 2012 9:26 AM
Soldier Course

Good news: The Belmont Stakes turned out like "How The Grinch Stole Christmas".  The fans came out strong, showing up like all the Whos Down In Whoville on Christmas Day, despite the lack of the big event.

Bad News: I'll Have Another will be remembered for only one thing, vanishing back to obscurity on the threshhold of immortality.

12 Jun 2012 12:06 PM
Karen in Texas

Soldier Course----Well, possibly, but perhaps IHA will have a successful stud career for which he can be remembered. He will never be obscure in my mind.

12 Jun 2012 1:19 PM

Will, on another blog at the NTRA, I stated the same thing.  I may not be correct...but it looked to me as if Leparoux was more determined to keep UR boxed in, than in winning the race.

We'll never know.

From what I've read, the first indication of anything wrong with IHA came Thursday after his work.  O'Neill said the leg lost definition (aka..a swelling existed).  After cold poutices were applied, he was better in the am.  After his tethered jog with Lava Man in the am, the swelling returned, and a vet was called in.  Rumors started drifting out of the detention barn about 10:30am.  By 11:30 am, IHA was scanned and scratched.  By 1pm he was retired.  So why is everyone doubting every word every one speaks.  Give it a rest.  As long as they do right by the horse, it's good with me.

12 Jun 2012 7:58 PM

No reason to retire IHA this is what is wrong with the sport give us something to attach to.

A pro football player gets this injury and is told to suck it up.

I guess a horses health is worth more than a humans??

12 Jun 2012 9:23 PM

Mary: IHA boasts Roberto, Nijinsky II, Northern Dancer and Alydar on his dam side.  What's so different?

Johnny:  A friend of mine played for the NFL...he quit.  Any injury was treated with steroids and lidocaine..and they were sent right back on the field.  That's where most players got their drug habits.  Is that what you want for horses?

A human can make a decision to stay with a team or leave.  A horse has no choice.

13 Jun 2012 6:40 AM
Linda in Texas

Union Buster, you are busting Union Rag's because he won.

Then you say he beat no horses who had won a Graded Stakes Race. Well, hellllllloooooooooooo. Maybe they should not have been allowed to enter in the first darn place.

It goes to my last year's comment that i feel if a horse has not raced in The Derby or The Preakness they should not be allowed to run in The Belmont. Any horse then who was entered into the Belmont was entered as a rabbit to spoil I'll Have Another's chance at being a Triple Crown Winner. Well that backfired when he was scratched. And how much horsemanship is in that plan anyway?

Takes all kinds of earnings and wins to enter the Derby so horses skip the first two legs and get in

with no wins for The Belmont.

13 Jun 2012 11:26 AM

Well back to the Breeder's Cup and some horses that will have "home track" advandage.  Seems like Acclamation has just wheeled off 6 graded stakes, the Factor can't lose at Santa Anita and owns the track record, and G.O.D.s latest looked pretty solid.  Throw in a couple of Baffert's B squad and you have one heck of a West Coast roundup.  

13 Jun 2012 4:07 PM

Hey I am going to Ocala two year old sale tommorrrow and watch some breezing as just an observer not buying, hope to see a few friends and maybe listen to some professional opinion about these last few weeeks, any one from here going? I only live 30 miles from it and spend time over there watching all the time.Who would of ever thought a derby and Preakness winner would come out of there, In a perfect world Baffert would of trained IHA, but he doesn't buy two year olds with the issues of IHA, maybe he should

14 Jun 2012 4:25 PM

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