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It’s stunning and sad news that I’ll Have Another has been scratched from the Belmont Stakes with a tendon injury. If the horse is hurting, there’s no reason to push him and risk a tragedy. No one wants to see a breakdown of this, or any, horse in the Belmont. So it’s a smart decision. The only decision to make, really.

Once again we’ve seen why the achievement of winning the Triple Crown remains so elusive. The schedule of three races in five weeks is too physically demanding for modern horses. They weren’t bred for heavy-duty racing, and they aren’t trained for it. The grind just wears them out.

The deterioration can surface through an injury, or a loss of weight, or just general soreness and fatigue. Sometimes we see it in the form of an exhausted horse, a willing, would-be champion, competing gallantly for the Triple Crown, only to fade in that long runway of stretch at Belmont.

Not that anyone cares, but I like Union Rags to win Saturday’s Belmont.

I was going to bet on Union Rags, even before the unfortunate news on I’ll Have Another. But I would have been happy to rip up that ticket if it meant seeing I’ll Have Another win the Triple Crown.

This was another regrettable day for thoroughbred racing. But we could have been exposed to a much more disturbing and horrific scene in Saturday’s race, had the handlers of I’ll Have Another opted to push an injured contender into the starting gate.

Bernie Miklasz is a Lee News Service columnist. He can be reached at bjmiklasz@post-dispatch.com or (314) 340-8192.

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