Just as the horse community and many fans of horse racing were growing anxious to see I’ll Have Another be the first Triple Crown winner since 1978’s Affirmed, a tendon injury forced the almost champion stallion to scratch from the Belmont Stakes with only 30 hours left until the gates opened tomorrow. Affirmed was only the eleventh winner of the Triple Crown, which would have made I’ll Have Another, the twelfth horse ever to win the Triple Crown. There have only been two other horses that won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness and had to scratch before the final race at Belmont. Those were in 1932 with Burgoo King and 1936’s Bold Venture. In 76 years that instance has not arisen. It is understandable to see why a predicted 30,000 less bodies will be in attendance at tomorrows Belmont Stakes. Seeing a Triple Crown Champion is a dream that hasn’t occurred in 34 years and to see a horse come so close allows a feeling of, “well, next year I guess.” to settle among all who watch.
The first winner of the Triple Crown was Sir Barton in 1919, but the Triple Crown has become iconic thanks to the famous underdog Secretariat. Secretariat’s Belmont Stakes win in 1973 is one of the most memorable races in all of horse racing history and one of the most memorable photographs, as well.
The Triple Crown of Thoroughbreds, or Triple Crown for short, consists of three races that differ in length and are specifically for three-year old Thoroughbreds. The champions of the Triple Crown are few and far between for many reasons. A versatile horse that has the ability to pase and know when not to pase is crucial in a winner. The Triple Crown circuit is no breeze for the horses body, but it these horses are capable of it. There is a certain make up regarding the visible and physical traits expressed in horses. The traits differ among the multitudes of breeds in the horse world and in turn, make different breeds of horses desirable to different individuals. The traits associated with Thoroughbreds are flighty, temperamental, strong, big, and fast. They make for excellent horses to those who know how to and can successfully manage them. (I’ve always been a Quarter Horse person!) Running is the sort of thing the Thoroughbred breed excels at thanks to their genetic traits and their mental desire to do so.
The history of horse racing is incredibly fascinating and the traditions and unforgettable moments make it so historically important. There are many controversial sides to horse racing that will probably never be settled. However, if focus can be redirected towards the ability to come together as a generation and a population, it could be a beautiful thing. To put aside differences in views, backgrounds, upbringings, etc. and just cheer for the success of a beautiful creature running past the finish line isn’t that difficult. Success, for anyone or thing, is what should be put first because horses run, it’s a known fact.
Video of I’ll Have Another’s morning workout was released by his owner and trainer. There was a difference in his stride, a difference in the way he held his head, and there was a difference in his overall attitude. It was easy to witness the painful reaction that was felt anytime his left foot moved. Even Mario Gutierrez, I’ll Have Another’s jockey, expressed his sheer sadness of the event. Gutierrez explained that I’ll Have Another’s movement and strides were so individualistic, that he had never experienced them on any other horse in his career. The stallion had originally purchased for $35,000, a low price in the world of horse racing. After his two wins, his estimated worth now: $2 million. Now that I’ll Have Another is hanging up the towel, he will spend the rest of his days in a pasture at a breeding farm. Hoping to utilize him as a sire and produce offspring that can pick up the pieces is the idea. He will most likely never run another race for the rest of his life.