A cracked bone in his leg couldn't stop him. The same bone cracked again couldn't stop him. And yesterday, in the Northern Wolf Stakes at Laurel Park, bad racing luck couldn't stop him.
In C C's Honor, a 6-year-old gelding of immense ability, overcame all that and prevailed in a dramatic four-horse photo finish to win the $75,000 stakes for older sprinters. His time of 1 minute, 2.90 seconds for 5 1/2 furlongs nearly matched the track record of 1: 02.80.
The winner recorded that time despite losing momentum around the turn when two horses, one inside and one outside, squeezed him as if he were jelly in a sandwich. Jockey Omar Klinger jerked him back, seemingly losing all chance of keeping pace.
But In C C's Honor, as he has before, rallied against adversity. He dropped to the rail, shifted gears and roared down the stretch, gaining with every stride.
He and Klinger reached the finish line a head in front of pacesetter Romano Gucci, who in turn edged Cat Be Nimble by a nose, who in turn nipped Wise Dusty by a head. They finished side-by-side, four across the track like soldiers lining up for inspection.
For In C C's Honor, the victory capped a 14-race, six-win career halted twice by injury. While finishing second to the Bob Baffert-trained Anet in the 1997 Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park, In C C's Honor cracked the cannon bone -- the equivalent of the human shinbone -- in his left front leg.
He underwent surgery, returned to racing 13 months later and then, in a 1998 stakes at Pimlico, suffered a fracture in the same place, missing another 10 months.
"He's always had a lot of talent, but he's always had a lot of problems," said his trainer, Donald Barr. "Hopefully, this time he's going to have a career."
An hour and a half earlier, Barr pulled the plug on the racing career of G. O'Keefe, a 6-year-old mare who became that rare horse to return to the track after giving birth. In April she produced a healthy foal by Two Punch.
In her two comeback efforts -- the first in November, the second in yesterday's sixth race -- G. O'Keefe finished last. She retires -- a second time -- with eight wins and four seconds in 18 starts. Barr said she will be bred this spring, but that the sire has not been selected.