Colt Hurt in Friday Race Tore Ligaments in Right Ankle

The favorite, Big Brown, uses an explosive finishing kick to lead he and jockey Kent Desormeaux to a 4 3/4-length victory at the 134th Kentucky Derby, becoming the first horse since 1929 to win from the 20 post.
By John Scheinman
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, May 4, 2008

LOUISVILLE, May 3 -- Chelokee, the 4-year-old colt trained by Michael Matz that broke down at the three-sixteenths pole in the $150,000 Alysheba Stakes on Friday, tore ligaments in the bottom of his right front ankle, according to a report from Larry Bramlage, the on-call veterinarian this weekend at Churchill Downs.

Initially, Bramlage said he thought the colt had a condylar fracture similar to the one that took the life of 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, whom Matz also trained. Chelokee won the inaugural Barbaro Stakes last year at Pimlico.

"Amazingly, with such a good athlete, the [bone] didn't go through the skin," said Bramlage, who described Chelokee's chances of survival as 50-50. "Everything else went when he dislocated the ankle because his leg was flopping out to the side. So almost all the support went, but he was able to stay up. . . . [If] it goes out through the skin and bones get exposed to the racetrack surface, that's usually the last straw."

The colt is in a cast and will undergo surgery to fuse the fetlock joint.

Oaks Betting Falls 7 Percent

Heavy wind and rain combined with a contractual battle between Churchill Downs and horsemen over a larger share of advanced-deposit wagering account fees to drive down the handle on the Kentucky Oaks card Friday.

All-source wagering on the 11 races dropped 7 percent, from $33,570,510 in 2007 to $31,231,991 this year.

"The constant rain drove our guests under cover, and wagering began to decline after a seven-horse race scratched down to just five entries," Churchill Downs President Steve Sexton said. "Lower off-track wagering also contributed to today's declines, as race fans in major South Florida markets were unable to wager on Churchill Downs's races, including the Kentucky Oaks, because of an ongoing dispute with Florida horsemen. Additionally, Kentucky horsemen did not permit any wagering on the Oaks undercard via two national advanced-deposit wagering companies, and, and that also contributed to lower off-track handle."

Favorite Loses Distaff Mile

One of the heaviest favorites on the Derby card, the 2006 juvenile filly champion Dreaming of Anna, was unable to get by 12-1 long shot Bayou's Lassie despite clear running in the stretch, falling short by 1 1/4 lengths in the Grade III $150,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile for fillies and mares.

The winner, who led gate to wire, ran the race in 1 minute 37.70 seconds on the wet turf course labeled "good," a course that favored speed since rain began to fall Friday.

Dreaming of Anna had been on the lead in five of her previous six races, all but one of them a victory, but Bayou's Lassie came out aggressively under jockey Edgar Prado.

"Not being on the lead was an issue," said Cornelio Velazquez, Dreaming of Anna's rider. "I was comfortable with my position. I just ran out of horse at the end." . . .

Horse of the Year Curlin paraded before the grandstand and toured the paddock between the fourth and fifth races. Trained by Steve Asmussen, who raced Pyro and Z Fortune in the Derby, Curlin is back in training after his victory in the $6 million Dubai World Cup, the world's richest horse race.

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