Dullahan winning 2012 Toyota Bluegrass Stakes

Dullahan, the horse owned by a group of Iowans, is now considered the favorite to win Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner “I’ll Have Another” was scratched from the Belmont today because of a leg injury.

Des Moines lawyer Jerry Crawford, the principle owner of Dullahan, says it’s sad news as I’ll Have Another was aiming to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978. “I’m very sorry for Paul Reddam, the owner of I’ll Have Another,” Crawford said. “You dream your whole life about being in a position to do something as extraordinary as winning a Triple Crown and now he’s deprived of that opportunity after winning the first two legs.”

I’ll Have Another’s scratch marks the first time since 1936 that a horse did not contest the Belmont after winning the Derby and Preakness. Dullahan, meanwhile, sat out the Preakness following a third place finish in the Derby.

Crawford was looking forward to a rematch with I’ll Have Another in New York. “We believe we were very unfortunate to lose to (I’ll Have Another) in the Derby and we brought a fresh horse, rested for five weeks, so we thought we could prevail against him,” Crawford said. “And it would’ve been more fun to have him in the race.”

The loss of the Triple Crown threat has certainly diminished the splendor of the Belmont, but Crawford believes a victory today by Dullahan would still be respected by the horse racing world. “Unfortunately, horses come and go,” Crawford said. “I think Dullahan is the kind of horse that could run in outstanding fashion the rest of this year and be an Eclipse Award nominee. If he does that, people will forget that one horse dropped out of the Belmont.” The Eclipse is awarded annually to the sport’s top performing horse.

The post time for the Belmont Stakes is 5:40 p.m. (CDT). Dullahan will start the race, which now has a field of 11 horses, from the number five post.