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Newly Retired I’ll Have Another Exits The Winner’s Circle

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (AP) — Trainer Doug O’Neill gave his horse three friendly slaps on the flank, removed his saddle, and I’ll Have Another was led out of the Belmont Park winner’s circle into retirement.

I’ll Have Another never got a chance to try for a Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday after an injured tendon forced the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner to be scratched and then retired on the eve of the race.

About a half hour before the Belmont, the colt’s handlers led I’ll Have Another from the paddock, through the tunnel and into the winner’s circle. The crowd cheered for the few minutes, and jockey Mario Gutierrez climbed aboard for a few quick pictures.

He jumped off, O’Neill took off the colt’s saddle, and I’ll Have Another was led back to his barn.

“I wish I can be unsaddling him in the winner’s circle after a win,” O’Neill said. “He was a once in a lifetime, heroic horse. We love the horses, we love this extraordinary sport and it’s an honor to be part of it.”

O’Neill said he bet on Dullahan, who became the morning-line favorite after I’ll Have Another was scratched.

I’ll Have Another was originally set to lead the post parade onto the track before the Belmont, but that planned changed early Saturday after concerns the horse might become too agitated.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)