For also-rans, it's mostly downhill

May 17, 1994|By Jay Searcy | Jay Searcy,Knight-Ridder News Service

For a few glorious weeks each spring, the Kentucky Derby horses are the most celebrated animals in the world. No horse ever reaches a higher eminence than when marching in the post parade to the strains of "My Old Kentucky Home" at Churchill Downs.

Whether finishing first or 15th, whether costing $2 million or $2,000, wherever they go and whatever they do, they will forever be a "Derby horse," a horse upon whom once fell the most garish of Derby dreams.

They have left Louisville, Ky., now, most of the 14 Derby horses of 1994, some to run in this weekend's Preakness, some to flaunt their magic names at smaller tracks across America, and some, perhaps, never to run or be heard from again.

Already they are falling off the Triple Crown trail. Only five of the 14 are probable starters in the Preakness: Derby winner Go For Gin, third-place Blumin Affair, Tabasco Cat, Powis Castle and last-place Ulises. Beaten Derby favorite Holy Bull is out because of a blood disorder. Runner-up Strodes Creek will rest until the Belmont Stakes on June 11, as will Brocco, the second Derby favorite.

Say goodbye to the likes of Meadow Flight and Mahogany Hall, for they are not likely to hit the headlines again. It happens every year.

Back up to 1993, when 19 Derby horses were scattering from Churchill Downs, going this way and that to make a race-track living. They were famous. They were cocky. They were 3 years old.

Do you know where they are? We forget them so quickly, even most horse people don't know.

L Three of them are dead: Prairie Bayou, Union City and Corby.

Eight have had surgery: Rockamundo, Dixieland Heat, Silver of Silver, Diazo, Kissin Kris, Personal Hope, Mi Cielo and Corby.

Four are farmed out, or recovering from injury or surgery: Diazo, Dixieland Heat, Ragtime Rebel and Mi Cielo.

One suffered a near-fatal training injury, was saved by surgery but will never race again: Silver of Silver.

One has been retired to stud: Personal Hope.

Eleven are racing but, combined, have won just seven of 74 races since the Derby: Derby winner Sea Hero (1 for 5), third-place Wild Gale (0-11), Wallenda (3-11), Dixieland Heat (0-5), Tossofthecoin (1-7), El Bakan (0-7), Truth Of It All (1-7), Kissin Kris (1-12), Bull inthe Heather (0-4) and Rockamundo (0-5).

Five have won only once: Sea Hero, Tossofthecoin, Truth Of It All, Kissin Kris and Prairie Bayou.

Twelve of the 19 never won a race after the Derby.

Together, the class of '93 won just 16 of 96 races in the year after the Derby, and 11 of those 16 were won by three horses: Mi Cielo (4-7), Diazo (4-7) and Wallenda (3-11).

One year later, Sea Hero, thanks to the $1 million bonus for the best overall Triple Crown performance, is the richest of his class with earnings of more than $2.8 million. He ran five times after the Derby, won the $1 million Travers, which is something of a late-summer reunion of the Triple Crown horses, and took the winter off. He will race for the first time this year next week at Belmont.

Prairie Bayou, the Derby favorite who was second by 2-1/2 lengths; Union City, 6-1, who was 15th, and Corby, 17-1, who was sixth, were euthanized after breakdowns -- Prairie Bayou on the track at the Belmont Stakes, Union City on the track at the Preakness and Corby at Santa Anita after breaking a leg in training last month.

Storm Tower, 9-1, the colt co-owned by Anthony Tornetta of Blue Bell, Pa., who has since died of cancer, and trained by Ben Perkins Jr. of Medford, Pa., had won five of his six races entering the Derby and more than a half-million dollars. He placed 16th in the Derby and hasn't won a race since, not in five tries. He's back in training after a layoff and will be running at Monmouth this summer.

Dixieland Heat also had won five of his six starts at Derby time and went off at 20-1. He had surgery for bone chips in an ankle immediately after his 12th-place finish in the Derby and didn't run again all year. He's 0 for 5 in '94, with only $36,000 in earnings, and will be recovering for six weeks after minor surgery correct a breathing problem.

Mi Cielo, who finished 14th in the Derby, has been the most successful financially of the field horses with four victories and earnings of more than $345,000 since last May, giving him $525,000 lifetime and a 7-for-17 record. He is recovering from surgery for a broken right front splint.

Wild Gale, the Canadian-based colt, has had a successful financial career although he hasn't won a race since 1992.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.