LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- For Housebuster and his connections, it was a terrible way to end a superb career. And for the thousands of fans who backed him, it was a terrible way to begin the national Pick-7.
Housebuster, the 2-5 favorite, grabbed a short lead into the stretch in yesterday's Breeders' Cup Sprint, but it was another ,, grab that would lead to a ninth-place finish. Jockey Craig Perret said the star sprinter "grabbed his right quarter" when breaking from the gate. "He tore his whole hoof off," said a distraught Perret.
The Sprint was the last scheduled race for Housebuster, who was taken away in a horse ambulance after pulling up badly. The source of his lameness, however, apparently was not the torn hoof -- it was a strain of the suspensory ligament in his other leg, the left foreleg. Perret believed the colt had overcompensated for the pained hoof, thereby causing the strain.
At the eighth pole, Housebuster was trying desperately to hold off eventual winner Sheikh Albadou and others, but he tired badly, marking only his sixth loss in 22 career starts.
"The fact that he ran this far this fast is just unbelievable," said owner Bob Levy. "An ordinary horse would have stopped right away, but he ran on heart alone. If he's comfortable enough to move in the next few days, we'll move him to Jonabell (Farm, in Kentucky, for future stud duty) as scheduled."
* The winning 6-of-7 tickets in the inaugural Pick-7 are worth various sums, depending on the take-out percentage in the states where they were bet.
AThe 29 winners divided a pool of $8,525,849 from 40 participating entities across the country. The winning amounts went from a high of $235,901 at Calder Race Course in Florida to a low of $218,427 at Trinity Meadows in Texas. There were no winners at Churchill Downs, which drew the largest amount in wagers with a little more than $2 million, nor at Laurel Race Course and the Pimlico intertrack outlet.
Interestingly, there were 11 winning tickets at Thistledown in Ohio, and 10 at Santa Anita Park and its Southern California intertrack sites. The apparent misapportion in winners from a small track such as Thistledown most likely stems from the intricacies of multiple-wager tickets; it is quite probable that one person or syndicate won more than $2.2 million at Thistledown.
Second-highest amount bet on the Pick-7 was the nearly $1.65 million wagered on the Southern California circuit. The New York Racing Association ($941,411) was third, and Laurel/Pimlico attracted $296,687, which was ninth.
The estimated combined handle for the entire Breeders' Cup card for all sites was $73.9 million.
* Dance Smartly got a perfect trip to win the Distaff and make herself the richest female runner in racing history. With 11 wins from just 13 starts, she has earned $3,083,456, which carries her past Lady's Secret.
Dance Smartly is the first Canadian-bred horse to win a Breeders' Cup. "Wherever you go, you race under the [Canadian] flag," said owner Ernie Samuel, whose Sam-Son Farm is a perennial leader in Canada. "This is a great, great victory."
Pat Day, who rode Dance Smartly, won a Breeders' Cup event for the seventh time, most in series history.
* Opening Verse's win in the Mile was also a score for Maryland breeding.
The 5-year-old was making his final start and will begin his stud career at the Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City. "He should be getting here sometime Monday," said farm manager Paul "Junior" Clevenger.
Northview is on the land that was home to the great stallion, Northern Dancer, when Windfields Farm was Maryland's flagship breeding operation. Opening Verse is a son of The Minstrel, who also stood at Windfields.
* Julie Krone failed to become the first female jockey to win a Breeders' Cup race when Preach ran seventh in the Fillies as the favorite, but Krone's day wasn't a total flop. She rode Harness Hitch, a 49-1 shot, to win the $50,000-added Abrogate Stakes before the Breeders' Cup program began.
Preach "was getting bounced around like a pingpong ball in there the first part of the way," said Krone. But when an opening, and a short lead, were hers for the asking at the quarter-pole, Preach did not respond.
* Pat Valenzuela was the only jockey to win as many as two races yesterday, winning back-to-back with Opening Verse and Arazi.
The next race, the Turf, did not go so well for Valenzuela. The colt was pulled up with a quarter-mile remaining after appearing to take a bad step in the final turn. Track officials reported Filago had suffered a torn ligament in his right foreleg, an ailment that should force the colt's retirement but is not life-threatening.
* Allen Paulson, co-owner of Arazi, is also owner of Gulfstream Aerospace. He said Arazi's name comes from a navigational checkpoint in Arizona.
Dinard, another Paulson horse, was named for a checkpoint in France. The 3-year-old was one of the favorites for this year's Kentucky Derby before being sidelined in late April with an injury. The gelding is back in training.
Breeders' Cup upsets
Biggest prices paid by upset winners in the Breeders' Cup races:
Horse.. .. .. .. ..Year, race.. .. ..Win price
Lashkari.. .. .. .. 1984 Turf.. .. ....$108.00
Miss Alleged.. .. ..1991 Turf.. .. .... $86.20
Last Tycoon.. .. .. 1986 Mile.. .. .. ..$73.80
Wild Again.. .. .. .1984 Classic.. .. ..$64.60
Epitome.. .. .. .. .1987 Fillies.. .. ..$62.80
Opening Verse.. .. .1991 Mile.. .. .. ..$55.40
Sheikh Albadou.. .. 1991 Sprint.. .. .. $54.60
Outstandingly.. .. .1984 Fillies.. .. ..$47.60