Re: Susan Johnson article ‘Horse Racing: Heartbeats & Hoofbeats: Another disappointing Belmont — or was it?’ (June 13-19, 2012 issue)

I’m curious about the reference Ms. Johnson made about trainer “Doug O’Neill” in the article about “I’ll Have Another” being pulled from the Belmont: why is this significant? Could there have been something unseemly going on behind the scenes?

“Speculation was raised about the Detention Barn at Belmont this year. Could it possibly have anything to do with trainer Doug O’Neill’s checkered history? ‘I don’t think so,’ he told a TV commentator. It was a precaution for all the horses entered in the Belmont, a hedge against possible tampering. Even so, O’Neill is planning to appeal his 45-day suspension from the California Horse Racing Board, to take effect July 1, on a misdemeanor charge of therapy-related medication.

“But there may have been an inkling of trouble. The horse was taken out for a workout earlier than usual Friday morning. He seemed a little bit ‘off’ somehow, nothing serious, but… After a conference with the vet after a quick scan of the leg in question, it was decided to send I’ll Have Another into early retirement for his own welfare. And that was the right, humane thing to do. Could he have run the next day? Probably – but at what cost?”

J. William Brod
Byron, Ill.

Editor’s note: I’ll Have Another has since been sold for $10 million to a Japanese farm to enter stud, according to Owner J. Paul Reddam sold the horse to the Big Red Farm in Japan because he received only two written offers from U.S. farms — one for $3 million and one for $2.5 million for half the rights, plus nine lifetime breeding rights. We can only hope he doesn’t meet with the same fate as 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand, who was slaughtered in Japan.

From the Aug. 8-14, 2012, issue

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