ELMONT, NEW YORK — ELMONT, N.Y. -- The 1993 Triple Crown might well be remembered as the year of the double tragedy.
Just as soon as winning jockey Julie Krone, the first woman rider ever to win a Triple Crown race, crossed the finish line aboard long shot Colonial Affair in the Belmont Stakes yesterday, trainer Tom Bohannan was spotted running frantically across the Belmont Park infield.
Just on the other side of the track, Prairie Bayou, the once durable gelding that Bohannan trained just three weeks ago to win the Preakness Stakes for the Loblolly Stable, stood hopelessly on three legs, his fourth leg dangling as the result of a compound fracture.
It was the second time tragedy struck this year's Triple Crown series. In Baltimore, the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Union City suffered a similar type of leg fracture and was humanely destroyed after the race.
The incident sent shivers through the sport amid speculation that Lukas had started an unsound animal.
Now, the sport was experiencing a recurrence of the Preakness catastrophe, although Prairie Bayou had a reputation as a sound horse and turned in a couple of quick workouts since the Preakness.
Yesterday's incident occurred when Prairie Bayou was galloping along in 10th place in the 13-horse field near the seven-furlong pole.
At that point, Prairie Bayou had run about five furlongs in the 12-furlong race. He had only three horses -- Wild Gale, Kissin' Kris and Arinthoid -- beat. But his jockey, Mike Smith, had not yet asked him to run.
When Prairie Bayou's left front leg snapped, resulting in compound fracture of the left fore cannon bone, both sesamoid bones and the long pastern of the left front leg, the horse gave way. Smith tried to hang on, balanced precariously while gripping onto the reins, but he lost his balance and was flung off the back of the horse.
Prairie Bayou raced on his broken leg for another five-sixteenths of a mile until he was caught by an outrider.
When Bohannan reached the backstretch, another outrider dismounted and gave Bohannan his pony to ride to the spot where the horse and Smith were being assisted by ambulance crews.
Smith was on his feet, but at first too overcome with emotion to talk with reporters.
After composing himself in the the jockeys' room, he told The Associated Press, "I didn't sense that anything was going wrong at all. He got off on his left lead, but he always does that. He stayed on it going into the turn, ran down the backstretch straight still on the left and then it happened. He wasn't going bad at all. He just took a bad step or something.
"I tried to pull him up to prevent further injury, to hold onto the reins, but I slipped and fell off the side."
In 30 minutes, the Preakness winner and favorite to win yesterday's Belmont Stakes was dead, humanely destroyed by a veterinarian.
"It was absolutely impossible to save the horse," said owner John Ed Anthony. "There was nothing that could be done. Any attempt at recuperation would have been too lengthy and so painful.
"The question, of course, that everyone has is how can a horse galloping along well within himself, absolutely sound, hit the ground and break himself up like that? Well, I don't have an answer.
"I think the track was safe -- it may have had a little rain on it, but it wasn't sloppy or bad. The track was in fine shape and fast [although listed officially as 'good' after rain started falling about an hour before the Belmont]."
The death of Prairie Bayou overshadowed Krone's ground-breaking win. "It's sad. It's wrenching and heart-breaking," Krone said.
But Krone herself had an incident-free run, resulting in a two-length win over Kissin' Kris, another long shot, who finished three-quarters of a length in front of third-place finisher Wild Gale.
Colonial Affair raced on the inside, in sixth place during the early stages, behind surprising pace-setter Antrim Road, who was stalked by Cherokee Run, Raglan Road and Silver of Silver.
Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero also was prominent early, racing into fourth place by the time the field reached the far turn. But the horse,
who was active being saddled in the paddock, tired from his early efforts. He fell back around the turn and eventually finished seventh.
However, Sea Hero still accumulated enough points in the Triple Crown series to win the $1 million bonus. Prairie Bayou had accumulated more overall points, but because he did not finish the Belmont Stakes, he was denied the bonus.
Krone moved her horse the same time Jerry Bailey moved Sea Hero. But when Sea Hero stopped, Colonial Affair surged. He rallied wide on the outside, caught Cherokee Run at the top of the stretch and then drew out in the lane. Wild Gale rallied on the rail until passed in deep stretch by Kissin' Kris. Shane Sellers on Wild Gale lodged a foul claim against Jose Santos on Kissin' Kris for interference at this point, but it was disallowed by the stewards.
Silver of Silver was fourth, followed by Virginia Rapids and a tired Cherokee Run.
The three long-shot finishers, at 13.90-1, 13.40-1 and 41.50-1 odds, resulted in a triple payoff of $18,677, a Belmont Stakes record.
The winner is owned by a 12-person partnership that races as Centennial Farm and is headed by Donald Little, an investment broker from Boston. Colonial Affair is trained by Hall of Famer Scotty Schulhofer, a former steeplechase rider who captured his first Triple Crown race.
Because of his large size, Colonial Affair was late maturing and did not start in the Derby or Preakness.