Brocco's trainer plays it safe

June 12, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

ELMONT, N.Y. -- Trainer Randy Winick called it "kind of heartbreaking."

But there was little else he could do yesterday but scratch Brocco from the Belmont Stakes.

The horse was tender in his right front foot after he apparently bruised the base of the appendage on a stone coming back from a workout on Thursday.

Brocco's scratch, the setting of three course records and a win by Maryland-based Punch Line in a $44,000 handicap dominated pre-Belmont Stakes news yesterday at Belmont Park.

Brocco is "not lame. He's just tender. Thank goodness it isn't any more serious," Winick said.

Winick and his crew tubbed the horse's foot in ice on Friday to try to reduce the fever.

"We got him to 50 percent, then 75 and then up to 80 percent OK, but that's not good enough to win this race," Winick said. "We didn't want to hurt the horse. We didn't want any kind of incident on the track or even for the horse to look bad running.

"He's too valuable to risk anything like that. We've got a lot of opportunities later on."

Earlier in the season Brocco had been placed on the Vet's List after winning the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park, coming back slightly off in a foreleg. The Vet's List is compiled by veterinarians working for the state racing commission and is a report of horses that return sore after a race.

But Brocco rebounded quickly and was shipped to Louisville, Ky., where he finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby. The horse skipped the Preakness and had turned in several excellent works during the past three weeks at Belmont Park in preparation for yesterday's race. Brocco, who has already earned more than $1 million, will now be flown back to his home base in California on Tuesday.

With six instead of seven starters, the purse of the Belmont was reduced by about $5,000 to $653,800. Yesterday's race drew the smallest field since six horses also ran in 1988, the year Risen Star won.

Brocco was not the only race-day scratch yesterday at Belmont Park.

Trainer Charlie Whittingham also withdrew fifth-place Preakness finisher Numerous from the Colin Stakes because of a stone bruise in his left front foot. Earlier, Accounted For was also taken out of the Colin lineup when he came down with a cough. A field of four horses was left in the Colin, including two colts, Looming and Silver Profile, who are both from Maryland.

Maryland connections got off to a winning start on the Belmont undercard when the Dick Small-trained Punch Line won a $44,000 handicap under jockey Andrea Seefeldt.

Seefeldt rated the 4-year-old son of Two Punch off pacesetter Dalhart and then passed him in the stretch and won by 1 1/4 lengths.

Punch Line ran the seven furlongs in 1 minute, 21 2/5 seconds, a second off the track record set by King's Bishop in 1973. Later yesterday, that record was broken by You And I in the Riva Ridge Stakes.

Three course records were set on the card on a "souped up" Belmont dirt strip and on a firm grass course. Key Contender stepped 1 1/16th miles in the fourth race in 1 minute, 39 4/5 seconds, breaking a 21-year-old record of 1 minute, 40 2/5 seconds set by Everton II in 1973. Then, You And I sped seven furlongs in 1:20 1/5 seconds. Both records were broken on the main track.

Then Paradise Creek, in winning his sixth straight race in the Early Times Manhattan, ran 1 1/4 miles on the grass in 1:57 3/5 seconds, bettering the old mark of 1:58 1/5 by three-fifths of a second.

In the Colin Stakes, Bay Street Star raced to a wire-to-wire victory, defeating Copper Mount by four lengths. Another six lengths back in third was Robert Meyerhoff's Looming, ridden by Seefeldt.

Seefeldt said the track was "too speed-favoring" to accommodate the late-closing style of Looming. Another Maryland-horse, Silver Profile, owned and trained by Vinnie Blengs, was a distant fourth after stalking the early leaders.

By winning the Early Times Manhattan, Paradise Creek swept the Early Times Turf Triple. He had also won the Early Times Classic at Churchill Downs and the Early Times Dixie Handicap at Pimlico.

But the horse did not win a $1 million bonus for the sweep since there were only five horses in the Dixie Handicap at Pimlico. A bonus provision in the Early Times Brewery contract states that at least six horses start in each race for the bonus to be in effect.

The horse's trainer, Bill Mott, said he's not bitter, "although my share of the bonus [$100,000] probably would have paid for the education of one of my kids. The Early Times people did all they could. I just wish the Pimlico people had done a little more. But that's history."

Only five horses started in the Dixie Handicap after trainer Dick Small scratched his entry, Dancing Douglas, because track management had not properly prepared a stall for the horse to receive a Lasix shot.

Pimlico management contended Small had not wanted to run his horse against Paradise Creek and Lure that day.

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