Unable to get in step, Disco Rico loses shot at Breeders' Cup spot

Pimlico-based colt starts fast, finishes last in Forest Hills Handicap

Horse Racing

October 08, 2001|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

ELMONT, N.Y. - Disco Rico's run for a berth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint ended on a blustery afternoon at Belmont Park. Yesterday, in the $250,000 Forest Hills Handicap, the Pimlico-based Disco Rico zipped to the front but then, with a clear run to the finish in front of him, faded to last.

"The trials and tribulations of horse racing," said Joe DiRico, the colt's owner from Boston, after conferring after the race with the trainer, Valora Testerman, and the jockey, Harry Vega, both from Maryland.

A brilliantly fast colt facing Grade II foes for only the second time, Disco Rico, the 9-5 second choice, surged into the lead and set moderate fractions of 23.11 seconds for a quarter mile and 46.15 for a half. That should have left him plenty of gas for a bold run down the stretch in the six-furlong sprint.

But first Delaware Township, the eventual winner, and then the other four horses passed him with surprising ease. In each of his 15 previous races, Disco Rico led at the stretch call. That long, impressive list of "1's" in his past-performance chart will now be topped by a "2" in the Forest Hills.

"I can't account for this race," Testerman said. "He trained beautifully. I really felt confident going into the race."

Vega said he heard gurgling sounds from the colt's throat, indicating that he might have bled from the lungs and had trouble breathing. Testerman rushed back to his barn where, she said, a veterinarian would check Disco Rico for internal bleeding.

And after that?

"We're going home," said Testerman, who has trained horses at Pimlico for 20 years. "We had to win [to compete in the Breeders' Cup Sprint], and we had to win impressively."

Delaware Township, trained by Ben Perkins Jr., won by 3 1/4 lengths and paid $4.90 as the 7-5 favorite. He completed the six furlongs in 1 minute, 9.49 seconds.

Hook and Ladder finished second and Yonaguska third. The exacta returned $21.60.

In the other stakes at Belmont, Godolphin Racing's Sunray Spirit, the 3-5 favorite, streaked to a 2 3/4 -length victory in the Grade III $100,000 Cowdin Stakes for 2-year-olds.

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