During race week, a team of veterinarians performed thorough daily examinations of all the horses in order to help insure there would be no catastrophic breakdowns on race day.
There was grumbling from some trainers, but no one can argue with the results. The races went off without a hitch, there were no serious injuries and no grisly television pictures of a Union City or Prairie Bayou being carted off the track in a horse ambulance, incidents that marred the 1993 Triple Crown.
"I think everyone in the industry was pleased with how the program worked for Breeders' Cup and we're looking favorably toward doing the same thing this spring for the Triple Crown," said Ed Seigenfeld, executive director of Triple Crown Productions.
Seigenfeld said it will be up to each individual Triple Crown track to adopt the procedure. "But I'm sure Churchill Downs [site of the Kentucky Derby] will do it because they also host the 1994 Breeders' Cup," Seigenfeld said. In addition, George Mundy, head veterinarian for the Kentucky Racing Commission, chaired the veterinary SWAT team at Santa Anita and was instrumental in the program's success.
Lenny Hale, vice president of racing at Laurel/Pimlico, also was impressed with the veterinary effort at Breeders' Cup and also is likely to give his approval of the project for the Preakness. If the first two tracks adopt the procedures, it also is probable that the New York Racing Association will follow suit for the Belmont Stakes.
Mundy is leading a panel discussion on his Breeders' Cup examination efforts at the annual meeting this week of the American Association of Equine Practitioners in San Antonio.
David Zipf, head veterinarian for the Maryland Racing Commission, is attending the meeting as is Bob Vallance, a private veterinarian who has a large practice at the Maryland tracks.
Root Boy update
Root Boy, the 5-year-old horse that survived a brutal breakdown in the Maryland Million Classic, is making excellent progress at Murmur Farm in Harford County, according to farm owners Audrey and Allen Murray.
The horse arrived there about 10 days ago after spending six weeks in intensive care at the New Bolton Veterinary Hospital in Kennett Square, Pa.
In addition to breaking three bones in his right foreleg, the horse lost about 1,000 centimeters of skin on his left side.
"Hair is starting to grow back there," Murray said.
Root Boy will be confined to a stall for another 1 1/2 months and will start breeding mares in early February.
His owner, Richard Blue, recently paid $26,000 to buy him his first mare, a stakes-producing daughter of Groshawk, at the Keeneland, Ky., sales.
Now Listen misses Hong Kong
Now Listen, the multiple-stakes winner recently purchased by a group of Marylanders that includes Lehr Jackson, Allaire du Pont and Herb Moelis, fractured a cannon bone in a workout in California last week and will not be able to run in a $700,000 international sprint stakes in Hong Kong.
Instead, the horse has undergone surgery and is due to arrive soon at Jackson's Corbett Farm in Monkton where he will be retired to stud.
In his last start, he finished sixth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Now Listen earned nearly $700,000 and is sired by Miswaki, a former leader in the U.S. stallion rankings.
Jackson said the horse will stand for a $3,500 stud fee.
"We're also bringing another stallion from California to Maryland," Jackson said. "His name is Ziggy's Boy and has already proven (( he is a successful sire."
Devereux off to good start
Local trainer Joe Devereux, who shipped eight horses to Santa Anita Park for the winter, is off to a good start in California.
Last weekend he ran his first horse at Hollywood Park and finished second by a head with Dior's Angel in the $55,000 Allez France Handicap.
The mare went off at 64-1 odds, narrowly losing to Jack Van Berg-trained Gumpher.
Devereux plans on running Square Cut, his Laurel Turf Cup winner, in an allowance race Saturday at Hollywood or Sunday in the Hollywood Turf Cup.
His two other stakes horses, Baby O Mine, owned by Tom McDermott, and Sidney Baer's Misspitch, also are ready to run.
Pearce puts down Md. roots
Ross Pearce, the former trainer of a string of Buckland Farm horses, plans to sell his Pennsylvania farm and put down permanent roots in Maryland.
Pearce, who has a dozen horses stabled at Pimlico, recently moved here from Delaware Park.
During his association with Buckland, Pearce, 38, trained the Grade I winners Seattle Meteor (Spinaway Stakes), Colonial Waters (John A. Morris Handicap) and Southern Sultan (Sword Dancer Handicap). He also won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes with Costly Shoes.
Pearce has an international list of clients. He trains for Isao Abba of Japan and Kim Hill from England. He also trains for Reginald Collier, who lives in Florida.
Pearce, who is married and has two children, hopes to add Maryland clients, especially now that he has re-settled in his native state. He grew up in Monkton and is the son of the late David Pearce, famed for his work as the horseshoer for Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew.
Pearce's sister, Liz McKnight, is a Maryland Hunt Cup-winning rider.