Unbridled's clinker in Saturday's Pimlico Special was not without an explanation. Trainer Carl Nafzger revealed yesterday that the 1990 Eclipse Award winner bled badly during the race, evidently causing his lackluster performance and sixth-place finish.
Unbridled runs on the anti-bleeding medication Lasix, but the drug did not fulfill its purpose.
"He bled pretty heavily," Nafzger said. "Blood was actually trickling out of his nose when we were scoping him. Why? I don't know. He hasn't bled since he was a 2-year-old. I thought the problem was behind us."
Unbridled now will need a brief period of rest and will not start in the June 8 Nassau County Handicap at Belmont, the next race in the American Championship Racing Series. Before the incident, he was not considered a likely starter in the New York race.
"I don't know which way to go with him now," Nafzger said. "As for the time he'll need, I wish I had the answer."
Nafzger downplayed any effect the bleeding had on the race. Farma Way, who broke the track record and equaled the U.S. record for 1 3/16 miles, probably could not have been beaten under any circumstances. Nafzger was the first to admit this.
"Farma Way threw a no-hitter in this race," Nafzger said. "They weren't going to beat him. Even if Unbridled had fired, he might have gotten up there for a photo for the place. Nobody was making up any ground on anybody else."
Summer Squall, who ran well to finish a clear second behind Farma Way, also will be kept out of the Nassau County and will now be pointed toward the June 29 Hollywood Gold Cup at Hollywood Park.
As for Farma Way, it's on to Belmont Park. Trainer Wayne Lukas has toyed with a few other options but now seems set on continuing on with the series.
"I think we should go to the Nassau County because of the series and the [$1.5 million] bonus," Lukas said. "The Met Mile is tempting because we have a brilliant miler. It would make a helluva race with him, Housebuster and Thirty Six Red. But with the series, it's more profitable to go in the other one and we can't make them both."
Farma Way will be heavily favored in the Nassau County. A victory would put him ahead in the points standings for the bonus given to the horse with the best overall performance in the series. Still, Lukas believes the system is flawed.
"The points aren't right," he said. "You should get more of a premium for winning. We've won two out of four and we're only tied for first [with Festin and Jolie's Halo]. A horse could finish third in all 10 races and win the thing."
Jolie's Halo, who finished third Saturday, also is being pointed for the Nassau County. Oaklawn Handicap winner Festin, who finished fourth in the Special, is another likely starter in the June 8 race. The new faces will include Chief Honcho, who won the Excelsior Handicap in his last start.