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Neigh It Ain’t So…

Belmont fans react to I’ll Have Another race scratch

After a 33-year drought without a Triple Crown winner at the Belmont Stakes, many were looking forward to witnessing I’ll Have Another go for history in the 144th annual race. Disappointment and surprise, however, soon came to racing fans when it was announced just a mere day before his attempt at history, that the Belmont favorite was being scratched from the race due to tendonitis in his left leg.

While many may not have made the trek to Elmont this year without the treat of a Triple Crown, longtime racing fan Louis Howe still made the 3-hour drive from North Hampton, MA to see the race.

“I was disappointed by I’ll Have Another’s race scratch but it didn’t deter me from coming,” said Howe.

The 58-year-old grew up in Elmont and has been watching horse racing since he was 15 years old. After witnessing past Triple Crown winners such as Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed at Belmont, Howe said in regards to I’ll Have Another’s chances if he had run, “I didn’t think he was going to win anyway.”

Lody Jiskoot and his wife Dawn made the trek from Connecticut solely to see I’ll Have Another go for the Triple Crown. The initial reaction from the Connecticut couple was “disappointment…big time.”

“I’m still excited to see him lead the ponies around,” said Lody. “I think the crowd is going to explode when it happens.”

“I still wanted to come even though he wasn’t running,” Dawn said. “But it would’ve been nice to see a Triple Crown winner.”

The younger generation of horse racing fans seemed to follow the same testament of disappointment in not being able to see what could have been horse racing history.

“I originally came for I’ll Have Another, but I decided to come anyway,” said 19-year-old Josh Gara.

While the majority of the crowd seemed to display a negative sentiment towards the situation, some found positive aspects of it.

“The place was out of control when Big Brown went for the Triple Crown,” said Suffolk County native Joe Lapetina. “There were too many people here. I was a little happy.”

Lapetina’s friend, Frank Tazzano from Nassau County agreed that there were “good and bad” aspects to I’ll Have Another’s scratch.

“You feel sad for the horse and the trainers,” said Tazzano. “But it can get very crowded on the Triple Crown days.”

Despite disappointment from much of the crowd and a decrease in the 120,000 estimate expected at Belmont, winning jockey John Velasquez certainly thought that the race itself didn’t disappoint. New York Racing Association officials revealed that 85,811 people attended the race on Saturday, June 9.

“I thought it was a very exciting race at the end, the public should be happy with it,” Velasquez stated. “I thank the media and everybody who actually came and put the race out there. I think it was an unbelievable race.”