LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The retirement of Triple Crown contender "I'll Have Another", just one day before the Belmont, has certainly taken a lot of excitement out of Saturday's race and that took a toll on the attendance today at Churchill Downs.
Nicholas Smith works at Churchill Downs and said the crowd was a lot smaller than they had hoped would show up. “I was hoping for a Triple Crown, but the horse got hurt so everybody didn’t come out,” Smith said.
Horse racing fans said they were disappointed the chance for a Triple Crown winner was gone before the Belmont Stakes. “I was completely disappointed “I’ll Have Another” wasn’t able to race. It was a tragedy of course it’s retired now. It’s just horrible,” Greg Wirtzberger said.
Other fans said with the clear favorite to win the Belmont Stakes out of the race it added to the excitement.
“It adds to the mystic of the Triple Crown, because it’s been so long since there’s been a Triple Crown winner,” Lisa Nisevich said.
During the Belmont Stakes disappointed turned into excitement for many.
“I was just really socked and thrilled that “Union Rags” won. [He] looked great at Derby, so I figured why not…let’s take a chance, and it paid off,” Nisevich said.
Lauren Mikel said,” You don’t have t invest a whole lot of money you know to have a good time and enjoy it.”
“I’ll Have Another” was honored in a retirement ceremony just before the Belmont Stakes started and many fans says it was a great horse who was on the verge of racing history before fate stepped in with a career ending tendon injury.
“He was born and bred here in Louisville. I was real thrilled about that. It was a real let down,” Gary Ernspiker said.
Many horse racing fans said even though there wasn’t a Triple Crown winner this year they are excited and happy about the attention the sport is getting.