LOUISVILLE, Ky. — LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- On a day when trainer Michael Matz and jockey Edgar Prado should have been celebrating their strong victory with Round Pond in the 1 1/8 -mile, $2 million, Grade I Breeders' Cup Distaff, they found themselves in another devastating situation.
Only this time, it wasn't their horse in jeopardy.
Five months ago, they had seen Barbaro, their Kentucky Derby winner, break his right hind leg in the Preakness. Yesterday, as Prado drove Round Pond to a 4 1/4 -length victory, favorite Fleet Indian pulled up with injuries to his left two suspensory ligaments (the two major stabilizing ligaments in the ankle). And second-choice Pine Island was running to his death.
Pine Island's jockey, Javier Castellano, tried desperately to pull up, as Prado had with Barbaro. But while Prado was able to stop his horse before the injury tore away his skin, Castellano wasn't.
Pine Island continued on, his ankle pulverized and the wound wide-open, until his head went down and he fell and flipped as he came out of the turn for home on Churchill Downs' fast racetrack.
Shortly after being taken from the track by ambulance, Pine Island was euthanized. Fleet Indian is expected to recover.
"There was nothing left to repair," Dr. Wayne McIlwraith said. "It was a dislocation of the left front fetlock joint. The injury was open, which means you're dealing with infection right from the start ... and there was just multiple injuries - presumably (decreased blood supply), multiple fractures, as well as soft-tissue injury. Because there was no stability, the combination of those things, it's just not treatable."
Matz, who was misty-eyed at the start of the week thinking about what Barbaro has been through, looked stunned by the events, and Prado could not stop looking up the track.
"I was very concerned," Prado said. "You win, you don't want to see something bad like that happen. Until I saw that I was so happy for Michael Matz because of what we'd all been through. ... It just felt so good to win like that and then I saw the ambulance."
Said Matz: "I think everyone here feels the same way. No one wants to see that. It's very hard to see that happen. But it happens to all of us. I feel for Shug [trainer Claude McGaughey] and the [Ogden Mills] Phipps family. I know what they're going through."
Fair Hill shines
Besides Round Pond's victory, the Fair Hill Training Center had two other horses to celebrate yesterday.
Better Talk Now, the Graham Motion-trained 7-year-old who won the Grade I Turf stakes two years ago, ran strong along the rail in the $3 million race yesterday to finish second by a half-length to Irish-bred Red Rocks, a 3-year-old.
And Film Maker, also ridden by Prado, lost by 2 1/4 lengths to Great Britian's Ouija Board in the $2.2 million Filly & Mare Turf.
"Better Talk Now ran huge," said Motion, who trains Better Talk and Film Maker. "Everyone had written him off. This is not a fluke. He's just that good. ... I'm very emotional. I just finished second in two Breeders' Cup races. I never would have imagined being disappointed with two seconds in the Breeders' Cup, but I am.
"Our filly [Film Maker] ran a tremendous race, but Ouija Board is one of the all-time greats. That's three years in a row we've tried to beat her. I thought if ever we could beat her, it would be today. ... I'd like to come back again when Ouija Board is retired."
Ouija Board, sired by Cape Cross, won for the second time in three years (one of just four horses to win twice) and will retire at the end of this year, as will Film Maker.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who had a record 17 horses entered in seven of the eight Breeders' Cup races, didn't win one. His best? Second place, three times.
Pletcher's 17: Juvenile Fillies: Octave, second; Cotton Blossom, third. Juvenile: Circular Quay, second; Scat Daddy, fourth; King of the Roxy, eighth. Filly & Mare Turf: Honey Ryder, third; Wait A While, fourth and Quiet Royal ninth. Sprint: Friendly Island, second. Distaff: Spun Sugar, eighth; Pool Land, ninth; Fleet Indian, 13th (injured). Turf: English Channel, third; Go Deputy, seventh; Icy Atlantic, 11th. The Classic: Lawyer Ron, ninth; Flower Alley, 11th.
When Thor's Echo, a California-bred sired by Swiss Yodeler, upset favorite Henny Hughes, he broke California's Breeders' Cup tie with Maryland for most winners outside of Kentucky. California horses have been to the winner's circle three times (Tiznow won twice), and Maryland breds have been there twice (Cigar and Concern). In the Sprint, Kentucky-bred Malibu Mint, the 4-year-old son of Maryland stallion Malibu Moon, finished 12th in the 14-horse field.
In the Juvenile races, Dreaming of Anna ($7.20) led from start to finish in the fillies edition, while Street Sense ($32.40) was the upset winner among colts and geldings. Street Sense won by 10 lengths, the largest margin of victory in the history of the Juvenile, in 1 minute, 42.59 seconds.
Dreaming of Anna's owner Frank Calabrese said the filly by Rahy is capable of winning the Triple Crown and, come spring, he'll send her to the Kentucky Derby if she qualifies, "She doesn't know the difference between girls and boys," Calabrese said.