I'll Have Another's run comes to an end

On the day before I'll Have Another was scheduled to run with a chance to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978, I left Belmont to go to a nearby convenience store to buy lunch and every newspaper I could find. By the time I returned, most of the words written on the horse racing pages were moot. I'll Have Another had scratched. With hundreds of other reporters -- many columnists and TV talking heads had flown to town and would leave without even watching the race -- I crowded around a non-descript barn. Standing in a bush behind a nearby house, I watched Doug O'Neill brush away tears as he discussed the decision. A month earlier I had spent several mornings with the affable and controversial trainer at Pimlico. I'll Have Another came to Baltimore right after winning the Kentucky Derby, bucking recent tradition. For many days O'Neill entertained only a small stream of visitors and spent much of his time asking about Baltimore ("How the heck do you find the meat in those crabs?") He and his crew had rented a house in Canton and planned trips to Camden Yards and a children's hospital. Eventually the national media swooped in -- partially because O'Neill's record of drugging horses had come to light -- and the mood changed a bit. I'll Have Another failed to win the Triple Crown and didn't even give racing fans the chance to watch him try. His memory will fade quickly. But by spending so much time in Baltimore he returned some gravitas to the Preakness, turning attention from the infield party to the beguiling art of teaching a horse to run as fast as he can and then convincing him to do it when it matters most. -- Chris Korman
MCT photo by Mark Cornelison
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