HALLANDALE, Fla. -- Tragedy claimed the life of the top European sprinter, Mr Brooks, in the Breeders' Cup Sprint yesterday.
Jockey Lester Piggott broke his left collarbone and two ribs after the horse suffered a compound fracture of the right front cannon bone and fell on top of him near the quarter pole.
Onlookers jumped from the near Breeders' Cup notebook
by clockers' stand and pulled the horse off the fallen jockey.
The horse was euthanized on the track. The tragedy came 24 hours after animal rights activists passed out literature at Gulfstream Park.
Piggott told fellow European jockey Walter Swinburn before the race that the horse did not warm up well. The 5-year-old stallion, named after comedian Mel Brooks, had been reluctant to go in the starting gate.
Piggott was taken to Memorial Hospital in nearby Hollywood in an ambulance and was forced to cancel his mount on Rodrigo de Triano in the Breeders' Cup Classic. He is expected to remain in the hospital for observation for about three or four days.
The Sprint is gaining a reputation as a sort of equine demolition derby.
At least four previous Sprint participants -- winner Eillo in 1984, Eased Up On The Line in 1989 and Mr. Nickerson and Shaker Knit in 1990 suffered injuries and either collapsed and died on the track or were destroyed shortly afterward.
Last year's champion Housebuster pulled a suspensory ligament during the race and finished ninth, but was saved for stud duty.
Fast start, slow finish
Breeders' Cup IX got off to a rousing start for Marylanders, although their fortunes declined steadily thereafter.
, Local jockey Edgar Prado and
trainer John Salzman, who saddled Laurel Futurity winner Lord of the Bay, won the first race, the $100,000 Rhythm Stakes, with Departing Cloud.
The win came in the first of three stakes which preceded the seven Breeders' Cup races.
Departing Cloud came from off the pace and won by a neck over Fiery Special, who had been balloted out of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Glorieux Dancer, the second-place Laurel Futurity finisher, was third.
Departing Cloud paid $32.20 for the win.
In the Breeders' Cup Distaff, Baltimore-owned Diamond Duo finished 13th of 14 starters.
"I just hope she comes back safe," owner Harriet Finkelstein of Pikesville, Md., said before the race. Finkelstein owns half of the 3-year-old filly in partnership with Lillian Solomon of Washington.
However, after Diamond Duo crossed the finish line, she pulled up lame at the three-quarter pole. Jockey Tommy Turner dismounted and Diamond Duo was taken off the track in an ambulance.
The early diagnosis is that the filly pulled soft tissue in her right front ankle. The injury is not life-threatening, but could end her racing career.
In the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Maryland-bred Secret Odds set the pace for the first seven furlongs, but tired on the final turn in the 1 1/16-mile race.
He ended up finishing 10th in the 13-horse field, beaten about 12 lengths.
Secret Odds is owned by Howard and Sondra Benderm, who live in the Washington suburbs, and is trained by Larry Murray of Frederick, Md.
Selima winner, Booly, who trained all summer in Maryland under Vinnie Blengs and is owned by Seymour Cohen of Miami, finished ninth in the Juvenile Fillies.
Cohen missed the race. He was taken to the hospital Tuesday with a brain tumor and is still in the facility's intensive care unit.