CRAWFORD: Disappointment once again the best bet at the Belmont - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD: Disappointment once again the best bet at the Belmont

Posted: Updated: June 12, 2012 05:10 PM EDT

LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- We will not have another.

Not another Triple Crown winner this year, anyway. Doug O'Neill, trainer of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another, will announce at a press conference at 1 p.m. that the colt will not run in Saturday's Belmont Stakes, making him the third Triple Crown candidate to miss the final jewel in the chase.

Burgoo King in 1932 and Bold Venture in 1936 are the others.

O'Neill told The Dan Patrick Show that I'll Have Another has developed "a problem with his left front leg." Shortly after, he and trainer J. Paul Reddam announced in a news conference that the colt had developed a problem in his left front superficial tendon and would be retired.

Disappointment from the Triple Crown is nothing new, of course. I was in the process of writing about my last near-miss experience, covering Big Brown in 2008, when the news broke out of New York.

I have a dozen $2 win tickets somewhere in my office that friends asked me to buy for them when Big Brown was making his bid. I still remember all of you, and you all still owe me $2.

I also bought ten souvenir programs for people. When I told the girl selling them that, "You're going to think I'm crazy, but I need ten," she said, "No, you're not crazy. Nobody is buying just one."

I rode the Long Island Railroad to Belmont Park on race day, the one day a year that the train still runs straight into the track. It was packed. Every third word was "Big Brown," from a crowd of people who no doubt wouldn't talk about horse racing again for years.

Until this year, likely, in fact.

Such is the importance of the Triple Crown to the sport, its ability to lure a huge New York crowd and the eyes of the nation.

Of course, the best bet you can make on Belmont day is disappointment. We are Charlie Brown, running to kick the football. This year, at least, we won't find ourselves flat on our backs on race day.

Still, horse racing loses one of its transcendent moments. I don't want to minimize the loss. And while it's tragic for the colt's connections, who worked so hard to get him here, it's not a tragedy for the sport.

A tragedy for the sport would've been I'll Have Another being seriously injured in the race.

As it is, the horse will stay safely in the stall. For the rest of us, disappointment beats death, every time they open the gate.

Nonetheless the cost to horse racing is huge. Belmont already had sold a ton of tickets, but the television audience will evaporate, and the post-race conspiracy theories are bound to proliferate when a trainer, already facing a suspension in California, mysteriously scratches a colt the day before the race. What are the chances?

They have to be long. But no longer than the odds of us seeing a Triple Crown winner anytime soon.

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