The Maryland mare Xtra Heat injured her left front ankle in a stall mishap and will miss the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen today at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse in the United Arab Emirates.
Her trainer, John Salzman, said yesterday by phone from Dubai that Xtra Heat apparently had gotten cast, or stuck, in her stall overnight. She apparently had lain down, gotten stuck against a stall wall and then injured her ankle trying to get up, he said.
"We fed her and walked her at 4 p.m. [Thursday]," Salzman said. "She was fine then. When I got there at 5 the next morning she wasn't fine."
He said no one apparently had seen or heard Xtra Heat flailing about. He concluded that she had gotten cast because the bandage on her left front leg was pushed up, as if she had been pushing it against a wall, he said.
When Salzman arrived at the barn yesterday morning, Xtra Heat was standing but favoring her left foreleg, the trainer said. Salzman sent her out for a jog on the track, thinking she might be merely stiff, he said, but she came back limping.
"It looks like a sprain," he said, adding that X-rays were negative. "There's not much I can say. We've had a lot of good luck with her. I guess it's time we had a little bad luck."
Xtra Heat would have probably been favored in the world's richest sprint race. The Golden Shaheen is part of the richest day of racing, the $15.25 million Dubai World Cup program of seven races, featuring the $6 million Dubai World Cup. Four of the races will be shown for betting this morning at Pimlico, Laurel Park and other Maryland betting outlets.
Based at Laurel Park, the 5-year-old Xtra Heat has won 26 of 35 races and earned $2,389,635. The $1.2 million winner's share of the Golden Shaheen would have crowned her the richest filly or mare ever to race in North America.
Xtra Heat has won more stakes - 25 - than any other North American filly or mare. But she is 1-for-7 in Grade I stakes, and she has not won in four Grade I tries against males. Her best chance for that breakthrough victory appeared to be today's Golden Shaheen.
"This looked like it could have been the one," said Tim Salzman, assistant to his father. "This is the one we wanted for her."