ELMONT, N.Y. -- Bob Baffert, trainer of Cavonnier, was visibly shaken after his horse pulled up in the homestretch of the Belmont Stakes yesterday and was loaded into an ambulance.
"These are things we trainers have nightmares about," he said. "They don't deserve this. He's been training so hard."
Cavonnier sustained a bowed tendon, said track veterinarians. It shouldn't threaten his life, but probably will force his retirement from racing.
"I don't know what happened," said Chris McCarron, Cavonnier's jockey. "He took a bad step coming into the stretch, and his stride changed drastically."
McCarron was running sixth with a quarter-mile to go, four lengths off the lead then held by Skip Away. Cavonnier had been within five lengths of the pace throughout the race.
Zito's horses fall short
Nick Zito, the New York trainer seeking his first victory in his home state's signature race, fell short again yesterday with Louis Quatorze, who won the Preakness, and Saratoga Dandy.
Since 1990, Zito's horses have finished second four times in the Belmont Stakes. Yesterday, he would have been happy with second. Louis Quatorze, after battling for the lead early, finished fourth. Saratoga Dandy finished 11th.
Louis Quatorze broke from the disadvantageous No. 12 post position. He led the Preakness wire-to-wire after breaking from the more favorable No. 6 slot.
"It was different circumstances today with Louis Quatorze," Zito said. "He couldn't get the lead like he did in the Preakness. I think trying to contest the pace while being hung wide throughout the race did him in.
"As for Saratoga Dandy, he was overmatched. I'll just drop him down in class and hope for the best."
Skip Away's bad posts
Sonny Hine, who trained horses in Maryland for years, couldn't stop talking about his colt's poor post position. Skip Away drew outside post positions in all three Triple Crown races.
In the Kentucky Derby, he started from No. 16 out of 19, in the Preakness, No. 11 out of 12, and in the Belmont, No. 13 out of 14. All hurt his chances because, from far outside posts, he had to expend energy early to gain position into the first turn.
"You only have one chance to go through something like this," Hine said of the Triple Crown. "It's unfortunate my horse had to draw outside posts in each race.
"He ran very hard today. He broke a step slow, and he had to be used hard to clear seven or eight horses to get position."
Hine said he would take Skip Away back to New Jersey's Monmouth Park and prepare him for the Haskell Invitational Handicap and Travers Stakes.
Secreto de Estado scratched
Had the 15 horses who entered actually started, it would have equaled the largest field in Belmont history. But Secreto de Estado, who finished ninth in the Preakness, was scratched because of a slight fever.
Pub Date: 6/09/96