Saturday, October 03, 2009
FAVORED GRAZEN INJURED WHILE LEADING CLASSIC
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) _ Grazen sustained a career-ending injury Saturday while leading in the stretch of the $200,000 California Cup Classic, a race in which long shot Blackbriar broke a bone and had to be destroyed.
The breakdowns marred the nine races for California-breds at Santa Anita worth $950,000. The Cal Cup attracted just 76 starters, a reflection of the faltering economy that has reduced the number of racehorses available in the state. On-track attendance of 17,576 was the smallest in the event's 20-year history and was down by more than 3,000 from last year.
Grazen injured his right front tendon, with trainer Mike Mitchell saying it appeared he tore it.
"We won't have to put him down," he said. "We'll put a good support on him and he should be OK. He'll never run again."
Blackbriar, a 50-1 shot, was pulled up in mid-stretch by jockey Brice Blanc after taking a bad step. Track officials said he broke the sesamoid bone in his right front leg and was euthanized.
Gomez said Grazen was traveling along well until they came off the stretch turn and he switched leads.
"Then I heard a little noise. He nodded a little bit and kind of stutter-stepped on me," the jockey said. "I just tried to get him stopped as fast as I could without hurting him anymore."
Bold Chieftain ran the distance on the synthetic Pro-Ride track in 1:50.32 and paid $10, $5.20 and $3.60 under Russell Baze, horse racing's winningest jockey.
"This horse has always fired well for me through the lane and today going to the five-sixteenths pole, he was up into the bridle and I knew he was going to run big," Baze said.
Baze was unaware that Grazen had broken down until afterward.
"I'm so sorry about the wreck," winning trainer Bill Morey Jr. said. "That always dampens things a little bit. I'm trying hard to enjoy the win, but I feel sorry for the other connections."
It was Bold Chieftain's second win in eight starts this year and the $120,000 winner's share made him a millionaire, with career earnings of $1,083,411. He won the 2007 Classic in a half-length upset under Baze and he thus becomes the first two-time winner of the Cal Cup’s main event.
Lethal Heat, a 4-year-old filly running against the boys, returned $4.40 and $3.40, while Star Nicholas was another 6¼ lengths back in third and paid $4 to show in the field of six. One Chin Again was fourth.
Grazen was sent off as the 4-5 favorite in the richest race on the card for California-breds. He had been under consideration for a start in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile on Nov. 7 at Santa Anita until the injury.
Gomez returned later to win the $125,000 Mile aboard The Usual Q.T. by a length. He ran the distance in 1:33.39 and paid $8.80 to win.
For the second straight year, the event was run at the beginning of the Oak Tree meeting to serve as a prep for next month's Breeders' Cup.
In other Cal Cup races:
_ Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert won the $75,000 Distance Handicap by a half-length with Century Park, his only Cal Cup starter and a Florida-bred who qualified because he was sired by a California-based stallion. Century Park covered 1¼ miles in 1:59.72 under Tyler Baze and paid $10.20 to win. It was Baffert's leading ninth career Cal Cup win.
_ Bench the Judge won the seven-furlong Juvenile for trainer Doug O'Neill, whose other entry, Wolf Tail, was second. The 2-year-old Kentucky-bred colt was timed in 1:23.66 and paid $13.80 to win.
_ La Nez, the 2-1 favorite, won the $100,000 Juvenile Fillies by 1½ lengths under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith. La Nez covered seven furlongs in 1:23.29.
_ Lady Railrider won the $100,000 Matron Handicap by 1¾ lengths.
_ Bootleg Annie and Rafael Bejarano won the $100,000 Distaff Handicap by three-quarters of a length. The 5-year-old mare ran 6½ furlongs on the turf in 1:13.31.
_ Dancing in Silks survived the day's closest finish, winning the $100,000 Sprint Handicap by a nose over 3-5 favorite M One Rifle. Dancing in Silks ran six furlongs in 1:08.55 and paid $10 to win. Carla Gaines earned her fourth career Cal Cup win, tying her with Jenine Sahadi for most victories by a female trainer.
_ Yodelen Dan rallied on the inside to win the $50,000 Starter Handicap by a length under Tyler Baze. The 6-year-old gelding ran 1½ miles on the turf in 2:28.78 and paid $4.40 to win for trainer Jeff Mullins.
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