NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Trainer Doug O’Neill says a loose horse nearly slammed into Triple Crown hopeful I’ll Have Another during training Thursday at Belmont Park.
Thankfully, I’ll Have Another avoided a big scare ahead of the Belmont Stakes.
O’Neil says his Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner was walking a few feet from the outside rail when another horse threw his rider and came “screaming up the outside rail” in the same direction I’ll Have Another was walking.
The trainer says the horse went between the rail and I’ll Have Another, and that exercise rider Jonny Garcia told him the horse grazed his boot. The trainer feared a disastrous collision was imminent.
O’Neill says he’s seen accidents like that, and “they are ugly.”
He says his stomach is “still a little twisted” and he doesn’t want to think about what nearly happened.
In other news, O’Neil doesn’t believe New York racing officials are picking on him after the state’s racing and wagering board imposed strict rules for horses in the Belmont Stakes.
He replied, “I don’t think so” when asked Thursday if officials were singling him out because of his history of previous doping infractions.
O’Neil’s recent 45-day suspension won’t begin until after the Belmont Stakes is completed on June 9.
New rules call for all Belmont runners to be stabled in a stakes barn rather than spread out in different stables around the track. Also, there will be out-of-competition blood testing and close scrutiny and supervision of the horses and humans attending them.
Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another is attempting to become the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years. Affirmed last won the Triple Crown in 1978.
In other Belmont developments, Kentucky Derby also-ran Alpha will miss the Belmont Stakes on June 9 because of a fever.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin says Thursday the colt ran a high temperature Tuesday.
The colt has been fine the past two days, but it’s “too high a temperature too close to the race.”
Before finishing 12th in the Derby, Alpha won the Count Fleet and the Withers and finished second in the Wood Memorial.
Will I’ll Have Another go on to win the Triple Crown? Share your predictions…
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