Champion Havre de Grade retired

2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, shown winning the New Orleans Ladies Handicap last month, was retired from racing Monday after suffering an ankle injury Sunday while training in Kentucky. (Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Patuxent Homestead / April 23, 2012)

The 2011 American Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Havre de Grace was retired from racing after suffering an ankle injury Sunday while training at Churchill Downs in Kentucky, the horse's owner said.

"It is with great disappointment that I have to announce that Havre de Grace has been retired," Rick Porter, Havre de Grace's owner, wrote Monday on his Fox Hill Farm's website http://www.rockportharbor.com.

"After her work yesterday at Churchill, a little heat was noted in her right front ankle," Porter continued. "Still there this morning, 'Grace' was sent to Rood & Riddle [veterinary hospital] to be seen by Dr. Larry Bramlage."

"Unfortunately," he wrote, "we didn't get a positive prognosis for continuing her racing career."


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Porter posted the veterinary report and X-ray of Havre de Grace's right front ankle on the website. The diagnosis read: "RF lateral middle distal sesamoidean ligament desmitis."

Havre de Grace had raced once this year, winning easily in the New Orleans Ladies Handicap at the Fair Grounds Race Track on St. Patrick's Day. She spent the winter at the Fair Grounds.

Porter and Larry Jones had been undecided where to race her next. They skipped last weekend's Apple Blossom Handicap in Arkansas, a race Havre de Grace won last year, because Porter didn't like the weight assigned to her.

Havre de Grace arrived at Churchill Downs with Jones on April 17.

A 5-year-old daughter of St. Liam, Havre de Grace was voted Horse of the Year after a 2011 campaign in which she won five of seven starts, including three Grade I stakes races, only one of two horses to win that many top tier races last year. She was also voted the Top Filly or Older Mare of 2011.

Her only losses in 2011 were by a nose in the Delaware Handicap and a fourth place finish in the Breeders Cup Championship. She beat a field of males in winning the prestigious Woodward Stakes at Saratoga last summer and also won the Beldame Handicap at Belmont Park.

Havre de Grace won nine races and nearly $2.6 million in purses in her 16 career starts..

"Owning Grace through her racing career has been the highlight of my time in horse racing," Porter wrote. "She was a wonderful, wonderful racehorse, and I feel confident she'll be an equally wonderful broodmare. Thanks, Grace, for all you gave us, and here's to a long and enjoyable retirement."

Porter said he named Havre de Grace after the Harford County city of the same name because of his fascination with the name and the city's racing history. The old Havre de Grace Race Track, which opened 100 years ago this August, operated until 1950 and was one of the top East Coast thoroughbred racing venues in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.