Members of the media await the a news conference about I'll Have Another. (Michael Heiman / Getty Images )
ELMONT, N.Y.---It is 30 minutes before the news conference that will tell the world that Triple Crown contender I'll Have Another will not race in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.
The scene outside of the barns where they put the horses -- attracting every camera, microphone, tape recorder and notepad within 20 miles of Elmont, N.Y. -- has now become a circus.
There is a barricade with reporters seven-deep awaiting the arrival of I'll Have Another's trainer, Doug O'Neill, and owner, J. Paul Reddam.
They will announce that slight tendinitis was discovered in one of I'll Have Another's legs and that was enough to scratch the horse from his attempt to become only the 12th Triple Crown winner in horse racing history.
The media circus is a precursor to what will happen in the days ahead relating to the ongoing shaky image of horse racing.
A good example was the departure from this general area by Dale Romans, trainer of one of the horses that was expected to give I'll Have Another trouble at the Belmont Stakes, Dullahan.
"This is good for you, but bad for racing?" Romans was asked before leaving.
"Nope," Romans replied. "Bad for me. I am racing."
There will be speculation that the decision to scratch was made because O'Neill has been besieged by speculation from the moment I'll Have Another won the Kentucky Derby with young jockey Mario Gutierrez aboard.
Just last month, the California Horse Racing Board decided to suspend O'Neill for 45 days, starting after the Belmont, because one of his horses had elevated carbon dioxide levels in its blood. High carbon dioxide levels reflect a change in blood chemistry that is believed to help a horse combat fatigue by limiting lactic acid buildup.
This is considered a misdemeanor in horse racing, but once O'Neill reached the spotlight of the chase for the Triple Crown, it took on the appearance of a serious felony --- an overblown perception.
There is no official word on whether I'll Have Another will have another, and race again. That answer, and more, will be settled soon.
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