Artax, one of the fastest horses in the world, was retired yesterday after suffering a tendon injury, said his owner, Ernie Paragallo.
Speaking from his home on Long Island in New York, Paragallo said that Artax suffered a slight tear of the suspensory ligament in his left front leg. Recent winner of the Breeders' Cup Sprint, the 4-year-old colt was slated to race Saturday in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct in New York.
The leg front is the same leg Artax injured at Pimlico on Preakness Day. In the Maryland Breeders' Cup Handicap, two races before the Preakness, a man walked onto the track, impeding the horses and forcing Artax's jockey to jerk him abruptly to the left to avoid a collision. Artax wrenched his left front ankle and missed a week's training.
Paragallo said he doesn't believe the injuries are related. He said that after the Pimlico incident Artax recovered fully, breaking one track record and tying another.
Artax retires as a contender for Horse of the Year. Even though he won four of 15 races in 1999, and even though he never won past seven furlongs, he has support for racing's top honor because of three spectacular performances. He broke long-standing seven-furlong track records at Aqueduct and Belmont Park, and tied the six-furlong mark on Gulfstream Park in the Breeders' Cup.