HALLANDALE, Fla. -- A flight carrying English racing stars Dr Devious, Rodrigo De Triano and recent Laurel International winner Zoman arrived in Miami late Monday after "a literally terrifying" flight, said Nick Vaughn, an English lad traveling with the horses.
About six hours into the 10-hour flight, the plane carrying 18 English- and Irish-based thoroughbreds suddenly dropped about 500 feet.
"It's the closest I've been to thinking my number was up," said Vaughn, who as a lad is a combination exercise rider and groom.
One horse, Red Slippers, who is scheduled to run in a stakes on the Breeders' Cup undercard, hit her head on the ceiling of the plane and lost a tooth. The cut required stitches when she arrived at Gulfstream Park.
"Blackie" Blackwell, another English lad, said that, after the sudden drop, "a tremendous cloud of dust filled the plane and all the horses broke out in a sweat."
Vaughn said, "I was two from the back and the horse in the crate behind me looked liked he was coming right up and over."
Some of the horses received cuts and bruises and some looked tired and are reported to be off their feed, particularly Marling, the Irish 1,000 Guineas winner that is scheduled to run in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.
Because of the incident, Wally Pyrah of Coral Bookmakers in England said his firm is adjusting some of its prices. It raised the odds on Marling from 6-1 to 8-1.
Dr Devious and Zoman, who goes in the Classic, were not injured seriously.
Least affected was Rodrigo De Triano, recent winner of the Champion Stakes, who takes on Pleasant Tap and A.P. Indy in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
"He is as fresh as a daisy," Blackwell said. "Of all the horses, he has perked up the most."