2012 Belmont Stakes: I'll Have Another Press Conference Transcript

The full transcript of the Doug O'Neill, J Paul Reddam press conference following the scratch of I'll Have Another from the 2012 Belmont Stakes (via NYRA)

Paul Reddam, owner of I'll Have Another: "We want to thank everybody for coming out on short notice, officially to tell you I'll Have Another is retired. You can see he's in good shape. Doug will come to the microphone and explain the injury that occurred as of this morning. So I'm afraid history is going to have to wait for another day."

DOUG O'NEILL: Yeah, this is extremely tough for all of us. Though it's far from tragic, no one died or anything like that, but it's extremely disappointing and I feel so sorry for the whole team. We have had such an amazing run, you know, for me, taking three buses to go to Santa Anita at age ten to be here and try to make history.

Got to thank Paul and Zillah for making this possible. I've got to thank the team, too. A lot of them are back at the mansion, going to let them enjoy; I think they aren't enjoying the pool and tennis court today.

But Jonny who gets on him every day is just a great kid and Betto (ph) who came out here just in case we needed a backup, Inocencio who worked his butt off every day. Benjamin, who is grazing him right now. Savas, Leandro, and I know I'm missing guys, Thumper, Rio, Tyler Cerin, Marcos.

But it has just been an incredible ride, an incredible run. And I've taken so many notes, a lot of mental notes and I know we are going to be back here again. I know some people have asked if I thought the detention barn had anything to do with that. And absolutely not. Just a freak‑ish thing.

He has been showing a little bit of ‑‑ you know, he has been quiet the last few days of galloping, but his legs have been great. Yesterday he galloped great, but in the afternoon we noticed some loss of definition in his left front leg to which, like every other owner and trainer we prayed he just kind of hit himself and it was just a little bit of skin irritation, we did him up in a special poultice.

This morning he looked great; so I thank the racing gods there. And we did just a little easy gallop with him today. I thought he looked great on the track.

And then cooling out, you could tell that swelling was back and at that point I didn't feel very good. I talked to Mr. Reddam, and you know, immediately we got Dr. Hunt over here and he asked and answered him and he said it was the start of tendonitis in his left front tendon; and you know, you give him three to six months and start back with him.

But obviously he's done so much that it was unanimous between the Reddams and my brother and I and everyone at the barn to retire him. And it is a bummer, but again, far from tragic, but it is very disappointing.

PAUL REDDAM: I just want to thank Doug and his entire team for the great care they have given this horse. It was a hell of a run and I know they are all personally very disappointed, of course, that he didn't get to show his stuff for tomorrow, because we tried to be quiet. But I really thought he was going to run off tomorrow and really show something. So we were all a bit shocked, but we have to do what's best for the horse and if he can't compete at the top level, you know, he's done enough, and Doug, thank you.

Q. Have you finalized stud plans yet?
PAUL REDDAM: Stud season is over this year and the horse I assume is going back to Hollywood Park, being in friendly surroundings and, I guess we would be open to talking about that at some point here.

But it's not an emergency to talk about where he's going to stand or what he would stand for or this and that. We are just going to ‑‑ look, the races are going to go on today. The big race is tomorrow. Going to be there as a fan now, won't tell you who we are betting on. We'll take a few days to just let this play out.

Q. Which leg and which tendon the injury occurred to?
DOUG O'NEILL: His left front. He had tendonitis in the left front, superficial tendon.

Q. What's the difference between tendonitis and a bowed tendon?
DOUG O'NEILL: Well, a bowed tendon, you get a big old profile and it's an advanced tendon. So it's ‑‑ you actually have a large lesion in the core of the tendon. This is the beginning of a tendon.

Could he run and compete? Yes. But would it be in his best interests? No. And so yeah, we are not ‑‑ he would never get a bowed tendon.

Q. Are there any concerns that the schedule he's had over the last five weeks contributed in any way to this injury?

DOUG O'NEILL: I'd say no. He's been doing great. Just a freak‑ish thing. I think when you have a human or an equine athlete, when you give 110 percent every time you step on the court or the track, you're suspect to injury. I've been hoping and praying he would stay injury‑free, and you know, it didn't happen.

But again, like Paul said, it's still going to be a great race tomorrow, and you know, we'll be there and rooting and hopefully a good, safe run. Hopefully whoever we pick wins.

Q. Do you know yet when he's going to be going back to California?
DOUG O'NEILL: I think he was scheduled to go back Sunday or Monday, so that will be the same plan.

Q. Did you have any concerns for bringing him out this morning?
DOUG O'NEILL: Well, if he didn't look 100 percent this morning, I wouldn't have. But you know, after yesterday afternoon, the intent was to take him out real early when it was quiet. And one of the negatives to this detention barn is that 8:30 everyone is heading out and you've got, you know, ten to 12 horses all trying to go to the track, all trying to be on the wash rack. It gets congested. I wanted a real quiet time with him.

He looked great this morning. He trained great. But when I saw the swelling come up after the training, then, you know, without, oh, yeah, go ahead, Paul.

PAUL REDDAM: It should just be clear that yesterday afternoon before any of this came up, the decision was made that he was going to have an easy morning and come out early and stress‑free and just jog around the track for Saturday.

So it wasn't like he had an injury and Doug took him out for a test drive this morning. That was not the case. He had a little heat; it was gone. He was good this morning, probably because he was treated before the race on Thursday. It was just after that, Doug called and we just discussed, okay, we have this problem, should we look at it?

I said, well, if you look at it, and the vet comes over, he'll have a lot of attention, but what the heck, that's what's best for the horse so that's what he did. Just to be precautionary, he said we'll scan the tendon and it's a good thing he did scan it, because that's when he found the problem.

So the horse is not lame. He could have run tomorrow. You wouldn't have known a difference had he not looked at it. So Doug, through extreme caution about the horse, had the vet come over and scan him.

Q. What was Mario's reaction?
PAUL REDDAM: Well, I called Mario this morning, just after I talked to Doug, and he was ‑‑ I think he was sort of stunned, because he really didn't say much at first, and I wasn't sure that he really understood what I was talking about.

Then when I explained: No, no, I'll Have Another, he's got to be retired, his immediate reaction was, "Well, should I just go home today?"

"No, you've got to ride."

So he was ‑‑ he was sad for the horse, really. He has just had a tremendous bonding with I'll Have Another, as everybody saw him on the track, and his concern was 100 percent for the welfare of the horse and he expressed in the end no disappointment for him not getting a chance to run the Belmont.

He's just glad that the horse is okay and, you know, his safety, along with the other riders' safety is paramount. So that's why the decision was made.

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