(DON'T) BREAK A LEG: I'll Have Another becomes just another horse that ALMOST won the Triple Crown as it pulls out of the Belmont Stakes due to injury. Photo courtesy Al Bello/Getty Images

It just doesn’t seem fair. Those of us who wanted to see it happen will be the first to admit that it probably wouldn’t. After all, it HASN’T happened in over three decades. Even with two down, why would this year be any different? Still, for the Triple Crown chase to be ended without the third race even starting, no one can deny it feels like Lucy has pulled the football out from underneath us.

I’ll Have Another who, like plenty of two-win Triple Crown bids before, captured our hopes with dramatic runs in the final stretches of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. But it was learned yesterday that the horse will officially be retired before he can run the third leg of the Triple Crown.

The reason was legitimate, too. But, with history on the line, why wouldn’t it be? I’ll Have Another developed swelling in his left front tendon. The upshot of such news is that it’s an early indicator of tendonitis. A veterinarian recommended letting the horse rest for three to six months, but trainer Doug O’Neill and his brother opted to let this injury be the end of the horse’s racing career.

The worst part of the news is that it is quite literally a loss from ALL angles. NBC, who will air the race tomorrow, went from having a potentially historical broadcast to having just another horse race nobody cares about. The fellow competitors, now lead by favorite Dullahan, will go off knowing that, whoever wins, will always have doubts in the back of their mind. And then there’s us, the sports fans, who have to wait another year for a Triple Crown candidate.

But even now as the dawn rises on the 35th consecutive year without a new Triple Crown champion, this latest bid feels like it has been ended on such a cheap note. Even with no horse taking the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes for the better part of half a century, the last horse to win the first two legs and then not compete in the third was all the way back in 1936, 42 years BEFORE Affirmed, the last horse to win the Triple Crown, made history.

And, when you think about it, the worst part is there’s no one to blame. There’s no doubt that we, collectively, are Charlie Brown. But who is Lucy? The leg? Can you blame history on a leg? I’m sure someone will try to.

You see, the fact of the matter is ending this recent bid at history is the right thing to do. It is the RESPONSIBLE thing to do. If Doug O’Neill had decided to roll the dice in the longest race of the three and something horrific had had happened, we would all be ashamed of how we felt. We would have been supremely selfish, partially responsible even for whatever happened, for wanting to risk another creature’s longevity just so we had a CHANCE of celebrating an achievement that we humans made up. Ending this Triple Crown bid arguably before it even began is the equitable decision, and that is the hardest pill of all to swallow.

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