A tragic incident in horse racing history was narrowly avoided on Thursday.
The Associated Press is reporting that an unidentified horse was extremely close to slamming into I’ll Have Another while training for the Belmont Stakes.
The Triple Crown hopeful was reportedly trotting by a side rail when another horse tossed his jockey to the ground and, according to I’ll Have Another trainer Doug O’Neill, came “screaming up the outside rail” in his horse’s direction.
Luckily, the wild colt went between the rail and I’ll Have Another and only grazed exercise rider Jonny Garcia’s boot when he zoomed by.
It was an extremely close call, and O’Neill said his stomach is “still a little twisted” and that he has seen incidents such as this one and called them “ugly.” O’Neill talked about how lucky he and his colt were to avoid the catastrophe (via NY Daily News):
"Normally, when a horse hears another horse coming up on him, they look over and if he did that he would have been T-boned by that horse."
With so much at stake, it’s a good thing O'Neill didn’t have a heart attack. I’ll Have Another is one win away from becoming the first horse in 34 years to win the Triple Crown, and the weight of the sport is on his shoulders.
While horse racing may never become a mainstream sport, a Triple Crown winner would be a story that would vault into mainstream news outlets and generate lots of excitement.
All of that almost went up in smoke today.