Suddenly, Royal Anthem iffy for $2M Turf Likely favorite goes lame

Classic loses Wagon Limit

Breeders' Cup notebook

November 03, 1998|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- "We have had a setback."

With those words, the English trainer Henry Cecil sent shock waves through the Churchill Downs' backstretch yesterday. He trains Royal Anthem, the likely favorite in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf.

The 3-year-old colt, a four-time winner in five starts, became lame in his left foreleg after Sunday's seven-furlong breeze on the turf course. The reason for his lameness was not immediately evident.

But yesterday, a blacksmith removed his front shoes and replaced them with glue-ons. Royal Anthem appeared to be doing better later in the day.

"Hopefully, we will be able to run," Cecil said. "But it is not definite."

Royal Anthem's problem was the second blow in as many days for Prince Ahmed Salman, a member of the ruling family of Saudi Arabia. His The Thoroughbred Corp. owns Royal Anthem as well as Sharp Cat, who suffered a severe case of muscle cramps Saturday, went into shock and nearly died.

Her trainer, Wally Dollase, said yesterday that the 4-year-old filly probably will be retired. She was withdrawn from the $2 million Distaff. She would have been heavily favored.

"The prince is so in love with her," Dollase said. "He'd never want anything to happen to her."

Dollase feels strongly about the filly, as well. She won all four races this year without ever trailing another horse.

"She's probably the finest, most athletic horse I've ever been around," he said. "She tries so hard. She's willing. That's the word for her. She's willing."

His eyes filled with tears as he recounted Saturday's nightmare. He and four others held Sharp Cat up in her stall for nearly five hours as she suffered painful spasms and sweated profusely.

"It's a miracle she isn't dead," Dollase said.

Wagon Limit out

The Classic lost a long shot when swelling was discovered yesterday in the right foreleg of Wagon Limit.

The 4-year-old colt was to have breezed today at Belmont Park in the morning and then was to board a plane for Louisville. But when his bandages were removed in preparation for the workout, the swelling and subsequently a strained ligament below the knee were discovered.

Trained by H. Allen Jerkens, Wagon Limit upset Skip Away and Gentlemen in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Raves for 'Quest'

Coronado's Quest also remained at Belmont Park. But the 3-year-old colt, of which Stuart S. Janney III is majority owner, couldn't be better, said his trainer, Shug McGaughey.

"Coronado's Quest is better than he's ever been in his life," said McGaughey, who has saddled seven Breeders' Cup winners, second only to D. Wayne Lukas. "And he will have to run the race of his life to win the Classic."

A leading contender for 3-year-old champion, Coronado's Quest will arrive at Churchill Downs "in the wee hours of the morning on Friday," McGaughey said, after a flight on a Federal Express plane.

With his regular jockey, Mike Smith, still sidelined because of injury, Corey Nakatani will be the rider if Gentlemen opts for the Mile. If Gentlemen runs in the Classic, Kent Desormeaux will pilot Coronado's Quest.

Dickinson impressed

Michael Dickinson was pleased with yesterday's five-furlong works on turf of Da Hoss (1 minute, 3 1/5 seconds) and Cetewayo (1 minute, 4 3/5 seconds). He was especially happy with Da Hoss'.

Dickinson said he might send Cetewayo to Mill Ridge Farm near Lexington the rest of the week because the 4-year-old colt isn't happy at Churchill Downs. Cetewayo is used to the quiet and open spaces of Dickinson's Tapeta Farm in Cecil County.

Touch Gold 'awesome'

Pat Byrne, trainer of Touch Gold, continued to rave about how his 4-year-old Classic entrant is training. After yesterday's 1 3/4 -mile gallop, Byrne said: "I love the way he has his head down. He has his mind on business. Touch Gold is ready to run."

After Touch Gold's five-furlong breeze in 1 minute, 12 seconds on Friday, James Escarcega, an independent clocker, wrote in the Daily Racing Form: "Only one word can describe this work: Awesome. What he did on Friday is the stuff of which legends are made."

Pub Date: 11/03/98

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.