NEW YORK -- The agony of victory was chiseled into Scott Schulhofer's face as the 1991 Wood Memorial winner limped into the Aqueduct winner's circle and out of the Kentucky Derby picture. He did not feel well; his horse felt worse.
"Cahill Road just has so much heart, he just wouldn't give it up," a pained horse trainer said. "Some kind of racehorse."
He was already paying his respects, not to the dead, but to the damaged.
In a race so bedeviled with misfortune that the winning triple paid $666, Cahill Road rocketed to a three-length victory in yesterday's Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and then returned to the winner's circle lame with a career-threatening injury.
Meadow Star was not Meadow Star, but a dull charlatan who plodded to a fourth-place finish. Lost Mountain was not Lost Mountain, but a sharp imposter who stormed across the wire, second at 40-1.
Unfortunately, Cahill Road was himself, an extremely talented but fragile colt. He pulled the suspensory ligament in his left front ankle, which he also wrenched. The same ligament had bothered him earlier in his career, which is the reason he did not make his first start until three months ago.
"He has no fracture," Dr. Stephen Carr said. "Will he run again? It's unknown. Right now, the chances are only fair."
Schulhofer immediately said that CahillRoad, a full brother to 1990 Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled, will not be running for any roses on May 4.
"This is not something that you fix up before the Derby," he said. "We'll take an X-ray and make sure there's nothing wrong with the sesamoid [a bone]. We'll get him home to Belmont and see what happens."
Meadow Star, who had beaten up on only fillies through a perfect nine-race career, did not do much to represent females. Well-placed to the top of the stretch, she launched a meek late run before finishing 10 1/4 lengths behind Cahill Road.
Trainer Leroy Jolley said that he would wait a day or two before deciding whether to send her to the Kentucky Derby, which appears to be a race she cannot win.
"You always expect a little better when you're 9-for-9," said her rider, Chris Antley, who will now accept the Derby mount on Blue Grass winner Strike the Gold. "She's a proud kind of filly. I think she knew she was undefeated. This was a tough race for her."
Jolley said: "The winner ran a big race, and she did the best she could. When you ask a lot, sometimes you ask too much."
As the field of 10 broke from the gate under Aqueduct-gray skies, Gotham Stakes winner Kyle's Our Man shot to a comfortable early lead, sprinting clear by two lengths through an opening quarter-mile run in 23 3/5. Under Craig Perret, Cahill Road, who stumbled at the start, tracked the leader while in hand. He moved strongly while entering the far turn and soon swallowed Kyle's Our Man at the three-eighths pole. He opened up on the field and easily held off the mild challenge of Lost Mountain.
Happy Jazz Band finished third, six lengths behind Lost Mountain. Kyle's Our Man was his erratic self, failing to duplicate his Gotham effort and finishing a distant sixth.
According to Perret, Cahill Road was injured when taking a bad step at the quarter-pole. Instead of pulling himself up, he flew through the stretch on three healthy legs and courage. Some kind of horse, indeed.
Cahill Road, a narrow 2-1 favorite, paid $6 and completed the nine furlongs run over a fast track in 1 minute, 48 2/5 seconds. He earned $300,000 for his 93-year-old owner, Frances Genter.