Friday, July 27, 2012


A day before the running of the Belmont Stakes, I wrote  that there was an ominous cloud hanging over this year's event.   I'll Have Another's trainer Doug 0'Neill was cited  by the California Racing Board for drug violations and suspended for 45 days beginning July 1st the horse was heavily favored to become the first to win a Triple Crown in 34 years only to be disappointingly scratched

Rob Carr/Getty Images
Well, now the full story surrounding the duplicitious 0'Neil has finally surfaced.  I'll Have Another was injected with two powerful painkillers as well as a synthetic joint fluid.  Nothing illegal here. The colt was reportedly being treated for osteoaritis four days after he won the Preakness when x-rays revealed the ailment.  In withdrawiing I'll Have Another from the Belmont, 0'Neill announced that the champion "will be retired because of a freakish injury."

0steoaritis is not an injury.  Dr. Sheilia Lyanons, a respected vetenarian, said that is "was not something a doctor expects to find in a relativel young horse like I'll Have Another.  Kent Sterling of the National Horsemen's Benovolent Protective Association,  claims that Lasix  "did not improve a horse's performance." Dr. Lyons has her doubts. Lasix s banned in Europe ane other parts of the world because it flushed 20-430 pouunds of water from a horse. Dr. Lyons response was that "if a lie is told long enough, it starts to sound like the truth."

Now the plot thickens.  0'Neill claimed he was unaware that Dr.James Hunt had diagnosed osteoaritis in the days after the Preakness.  What?  The horse's owner, Paul Reddam added to the absurdity.  He maintained that he was not aware that I'll Have Another had been x-rayed after the Preakness but was not surprised that he had been given painkillers and medication  Is anybody going to believe that?

There was one final scene that was played.  0'Neil  was originally given a 180-day suspension in California for drug violations more than a dozen times in four states.  The suspension was reduced to 45 days which 0'Neill appealed.  He will now serve a 40-day one beginning August 19.  Yet, 0'Neill was arrogant to the end.  "I respect the racing board but I don't agree with it," he bellowed.

Reddam was active, too.  He accepted bids for I'll Have Another from American breeders but couldn't get higher than a $4 million offer.  Like manna from above, he got a $10 million bid from a breeder in Japan.  With all the drugs that was infused in I'll Have Another, who knows if he will be able to perform as a stud...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Lesson Learned



By Lou Sahadi
(Author of the book "Affirmed, The Last Triple Crown Winner")

It was all supposed to be about history.  I'll Have Another, the odds on favorite, was anointed to win the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes as the first winner of racing's coveted Triple Crown in 34 years.  Back in l978, Affirmed and his l8 year old rider Steve Cauthen, created the excitement with a tingling victory by a nose over Alydar in a pulsating stretch run for the ages.

There  was no magical moment or excitement  this year.  When I'll Have Another was scratched 24 hours before the race, after a strong workout  earlier in the week that made him a 4-5 favorite, the elixir of the Triple Crown champagne turned rancid.  I'll Have Another's trainer, Doug 0'Neill, scratched his champion early Friday morning because of tendonitis in the thoroughbred's left front foot.

"It's  far from tragic but it's very disappointing," bellowed 0'Neill.  "It's just a freakish thing."

0'Neill's lament wasn't looked upon forgigivingly by the railbirds.  There was too much suspicion surrounding 0'Neill who had been fined or suspended for drug violations. some of which caused his horses to breakdown.  When 0'Neill further announced that same Friday that I'll Have Another" will be retired after a seven race career, it was met with skepticism about whether the horse really was injured or on the verge of 0'Neill getting caught with some of his concocted serum.

There was also a cloud of suspicion over the horse's owner, Paul Reddam who is under investigation in three states regarding the high risk, high interest mortgage loan business that has netted him a fortune.  What's happened to racing that for centuries was hailed as the sport of kings? Are there more doubters, more dubious personalities?
Maybe not.

 There was a lesson learned from last week's Belmont.  Governor Andrew Cuomo weeks earlier mandated New York State to take over the jurisdiction of the bankrupt New York Racing Association.  In an unprecedented move, state officials ordered that every horse entered in the Bemont Stakes will be housed in a quarantined barn area
monitored by a state official to ensure that no licentious undertaking could be done by anyone.

The Kentucky Derby officials and those at the Preakness would be wise to emulate the actions taken by New York.  The state preserved the integrity of the Belmont.  It was a telling result that will help restore the confidence of the betting public and give impetus to a sport that has been in decline for too long.

Sadly, in all the cynicism that shrouded the 2012 Belmont, it will never be known if I'll Have Another would have been the 13th winner of the Triple Crown.  The racing public lost a possible moment of history.  However, justifibly, 0'Neill won't have a Triple Crown bauble to put on his splintered shelf.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Would I'll Have Another been the next Triple Crown champion?

Would "I'll Have Another" been the next Triple Crown champion? 

by Lou Sahadi 

"I'LL Have Another" photo credit RobertBLewis2012
In one of the most bizarre events ever associated with the Triple Crown, odds on favorite "I'll Have Another" was scratched the day before the highly anticipated Belmont Stakes and sadly losing the opportunity to become  a significant chapter of racing lore. The hard charging three-year old, a prohibitive 4-5 favorite to win the Triple Crown in 34 years was sidelined with tendinitis in his left front foot early Friday morning.   It was the first horse in 78 years to withdraw from the Belmont after winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.

It was indeed a strange occurrence.  After a strong, fast workout on Monday which, pleased trainer Doug 0'Neill, "I'll Have Another" looked unbeatable in his quest for the Triple Crown. There was no visible appearance of tendinitis or any other ailment that would have hindered him. Yet, it's been a characteristic with 0'Neill's horse to breakdown who came into the Belmont suspended for 45 days by the California Racing  Board for juicing his horses with some illegal substances.

"It's not tragic, but it's a huge disappointment," remarked 0'Neill.

Jockey Mario Gutierrez celebrates atop I'll Have Another
photo: Andy Lyons - Getty Images 
Racing is all about horses and importantly about their welfare.  Laz Barrera, the trainer of Affirmed, the last Triple Crown winner in l978, always felt that the horse was more important than any jockey.  He believed it was up to him to train a horse to perfection for a race.
I'll Have Another's withdrawal aroused the skeptics.  How could a horse that looked so sharp on Monday break down on Friday?  Some wonder whether the quarantine barn system mandated by New York's racing officials prevented 0'Neill from applying  his magic elixir to his horse.

Yet, the biggest wonder remains: Would "I'll Have Another" been the next Triple Crown champion?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

NYTimes The Rail Bookshelf: ‘Affirmed’ By LOU SAHADI

June 5, 2012, 7:54 AM

The Rail Bookshelf: ‘Affirmed’

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"I'll Have Another" cited by the California Horse Racing Board

I read with alarm that Doug 0'Neill, the trainer of Triple Crown candidate "I'll Have Another" was cited by the California Horse Racing Board for providing his horses with illegal performance enhancers on three occasions last year.  That's so disturbing to anyone who loves the sport of racing. For one, I fell in love with thoroughbred racing when I wrote a book on Affirmed, The Last Triple Crown in 2011 which has been reproduced in paperback this  year.  Affirmed's tenuous one-on-one rivalry with Alydar in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and The Belmont is regarded as perhaps racing's greatest  rivalry.

"I'll Have Another"  AP photo credit   
Penny Chenery, the owner of Triple Crown winner Secretariat in 1973, was quite upset atthe charges leveled against 0'Neill.  She acknowledged that J. Paul Reddam, the owner of I'll Have Another shoould be embarrassed over the allegations.

"I think that it is regrettable," she remarked in an article in The Atlantic magazine. "I think he shoould be embarrassed that the trainer he chose does not have a clean record."

Although I never met Mrs. Chenery in my year long research on Affirmed, I completely agree with her.  0'Neill created an onus on the June 9 Belmont Stakes.  Throughout the years, there has been a stigma to some degree by the bettors that racing is fixed. 0'Neill has added to that.  There is a black cloud hanging over this year's Belmont.  If I'll Have Another is wins, it will be looked upon as a tainted victory. 

 Penny Chenery and Secretariat
[photo credit]
0'Neill knows all about enhancers and was suspended for such back in 2010 in Illinois. Calfornia ruled that 0'Neill's suspension won't go into effect until July 1.  That's puzzling to me.  0'Neill can still train his horse for the Belmont as if he was out on bail.  How convenient.
0'Neill says he is upset by all the criticism he has received. He  should be.  0'Neill brought it upon himself.  He should be locked up in a barn for a year.  Pass the oats...      - Lou 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lou Sahadi

  Lou Sahadi is one of the country's most prolific sports authors with his latest published one,"Affirmed" being his 25th tome.  Among his other celebrated ones are the autobiographies of Don Shula; Willie Mays; Hank Stram Len Dawson and the intimate biography of Johnny Unitas which had a movie option  Since l990, Sahadi has been a  productive free lance writer after serving as the last editor of Argosy magaizne, a men's adventure and expose chronicle which broke several national stories under his three year tenure as director.

       Along with his books, his articles have appeared  in the New York News; New York Post; Miami Herald; The State (SC); US and Gear magazines as well as being a frequent contributor to Penthouse magazine.  His article on Phil Rizzuto (May 1993) was acclaimed by Larry King in his USA Today column and spearheaded Rizzuto's induction into baseball's Hall of Fame the very next year.  Among his other Penthouse submissions included such sports personalities as Darryl Strawberry; Dave Parker; Jeff George and a one-on-one interview with Frank Sinatra.

       Sahadi's versatility was evident in November 2000 when he made his entrance into the television media.  He wrote a treatment regarding the 30th anniversary of the Marshall University football plane crash which remains as the biggest sports tragedy in U.S. history.  The one-hour spoecial on ESPN aired several times.  A disciplined and dedicated writer, Sahadi has been successful in all facets of the communication industry, newspapers, magazines, books and television

                            "I have been so fortunate to be around some of sports' biggest stars, some of them legendary in stature.  But the one 0scar winning moment with Frank Sinatra in Vegas was the ultimate"   -  Lou Sahadi 

Lou Sahadi is a successful sports author who has written many books on various sports. Sahadi currently resides in Boca Raton, Florida and is a dedicated library patron.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Affirmed: The last Triple Crown Winner – 

Lou Sahadi Interview

Posted by Brian Appleton on August 2, 2011
Successful author Lou Sahadi has penned more than twenty sports related titles, including Johnny Unitas: America’s Quarterback and One Sunday in December. While most of his works are related to baseball and football and he knew virtually nothing about thoroughbred horse racing, he was intrigued when the idea was proposed to write a biography on 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed. It took him just two days to decide he would tackle the project.
Mr. Sahadi brings the unique perspective of a sportsman and not just a horseman to his interpretation of the Affirmed story. He presents it in an easy to understand format that racing and non-racing fans will enjoy. Sahadi has a gift for engaging his readers with the story’s supporting characters, in particular readers will be drawn to the incredible story of young Steve Cauthen.
I read Affirmed: The Last Triple Crown Winner and found it well-written and very engaging. Many racing biographies tend to get bogged down in boring human relations or too many facts while missing the mark on the equine action. Sahadi succeeds in keeping Affirmed and Alydar the main focus of his story without getting lost in boring side stories.
I recently was able to interview Mr. Sahadi about his book:

Me:  What inspired you to write about Affirmed?
LS: The biggest thing was that it was a challenge.  I had written 24 books, all in the baseball and football genre, when my literary agent presented me with the project about Affirmed. I was honest in telling her that I don’t know anything about horses.  I slept on it and two days later decided it was a challenge. That I would do it.

Me: What was your favorite part of the book to write?
LS: 0ne of my favorite moments was meeting the jockey, Steve Cauthen, in Lexington, KY.  He was the only one alive from that magical 1978 year.  Affirmed’s owner was dead and so was the trainer and Steve helped immensely in filling a void.

Me: Who is your favorite character involved in the Affirmed Story?
LS: Steve of course.  What he had done in winning the Triple Crown is unprecedented in racing history.  He won the Kentucky Derby just five days after he turned 18 years old.  In racing circles Steve was only a baby who calmly won the three biggest races in the sport.

Me: How long did it take to compile the historical facts and write a rough draft?
LS: It took about a year.  But I had good resources for my material which made it easier, along with wonderful cooperation from the horseracing industry.

Me: What was the most interesting part of the Affirmed/Alydar story to research?
LS: I think the Belmont.  Cauthen, with Affirmed, had won the first two jewels of the Triple Crown, but the most challenging bauble was the Belmont, a 1 1/2 mile endurance race. The home stretch of the Belmont has been a graveyard for thoroughbreds. Could Cauthen hold on and rate Affirmed for that final stretch, and withstand a challenge from Alydar?

Me: Which parts of the book were the most difficult/easy to write.
LS: The most difficult part was Affirmed’s early years as a yearling.  There was no one around who could provide any details.  The Triple Crown races were well chronicled and the information readily accessible.

Me: Did you get to personally meet with any of the people connected with the Affirmed story while researching for the book?
LS: Just Steve Cauthen

Me: What are some of the methods you employ to keep the main story line moving while profiling some of the supporting characters that enter during the course of the book?
LS: What I had to do was develop continuity with all the principals involved, and I feel I did just that.  I refrained from being too technical which is boredom, and just let my material flow naturally.  I have to say, “Affirmed…The Last Triple Crown”, is an easy read and one doesn’t have to know anything about racing to enjoy it.

Me: What books and writers have had the biggest impact on the way you write?
LS: In the sports arena I have to give a nod to Dabe Anderson of the New York Times, Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated and Mark Kriegel of Fox Sports.  In the literary field I recoginize John Grisham.

Me: How did you decide on the title?
LS: The editor at St. Martins Press accounted for it.

Me: Who do you feel is the greatest Triple Crown winner in history?
LS: Affirmed without question.  What makes him so, was that he had a pressurized challenge in all the races from Alydar and his veteran jockey Jorge Velasquez.  The combined total victory margin for the three races was something like a length and a quarter, miniscule.  It doesn’t get any closer that that

Me: How does the rivalry of Affirmed and Alydar stack up to the other great rivalries in horse racing in your opinion?
LS: I haven’t been around racing that much, but again let me emphasize, how can  any other rivalry equate that of Affirmed and Alydar?

Me: Will you be working on any other books that deal with thoroughbred horse racing in the future?
LS: Not at the present.  But I would like to do another in racing now that I got my ears wet.

Me: Do you have any projects you are currently working on?
LS: Nothing definitive.  I have some ideas but it’s too early to relate.  Need to do more research.

Me: What else do you want your readers to know about the book?
LS: That it was truly a labor of love.  I wish I had been around in l978 and absorbed the excitement that Affirmed and Alydar created.  But I think I managed to capture it through my writing and I did receive good reviews for it.