I'll Have Another's Triple Crown bid, his career and perhaps even his life were in serious jeopardy Thursday morning as a loose horse bore down on him from behind. Fortunately, there was no contact as the runaway ran by at full speed along the outside rail midway on the clubhouse turn of Belmont Park's main track.
Trainer Doug O'Neill said the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner had just walked onto the track with stable pony Lava Man when the narrow escape occurred about 8:45 a.m.
"If I'll Have Another had done the natural thing and turned his body, the horse would have run right into him," O'Neill said. "That's how you get those T-bones. I've seen accidents like that, and they're ugly. The racing gods were watching over us."
O'Neill said I'll Have Another, with exercise rider Jonny Garcia, and Lava Man, with Humberto Gomez, were walking a few feet off the rail "when the other horse dumped his rider and came screaming up the rail. Jonny said the loose horse grazed his boot."
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About an hour later, the usually laid-back O'Neill said his stomach was still in a knot. "I was definitely a little twisted."
After the near-miss, I'll Have Another proceeded on with his morning mile gallop.
"Once we dodged that, everything went well," O'Neill said. "He jogged great, galloped super. I noticed every day he's cooling out even quicker. He seems like he loves it here, and he's really getting used to the oval and getting used to the footing, and I couldn't be happier with the way he's going."