ELMONT, N.Y., JUNE 5 -- Colonial Affair used a voracious rally to win the $740,900 Belmont Stakes today as the 1993 Triple Crown took another macabre turn in windswept rain. Favored Prairie Bayou, the nation's leading 3-year-old, broke down on the backstretch and later was destroyed.
The incident clouded a shining moment for the racing industry as Julie Krone became the first female jockey to win a Triple Crown race and Hall of Fame trainer Scotty Schulhofer captured his first Belmont at age 67.
After taking the lead shortly into the stretch, Colonial Affair -- a Virginia-bred with ties to the Washington area -- proceeded to a 2 1/4-length victory over Kissin Kris. Wild Gale was third and Silver of Silver fourth in an unexpected outcome that brought huge mutuel payoffs.
Three weeks after Union City lost his life following a breakdown in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico -- a race won by Prairie Bayou -- misfortune struck again before 45,037 here. Prairie Bayou's left foreleg crumpled on the moist Belmont Park dirt as the gelding raced well off the lead, causing jockey Mike Smith to fall off his right side.
Smith wasn't injured, and he seemed to walk the track in a stupor as Prairie Bayou was helped into a track ambulance at the cusp of the far turn, his damaged leg placed in a movable brace.
"Out of nowhere, it was a bad step," said Smith, who rode all but one of Prairie Bayou's races this year as the horse rose to prominence. "It was ... kind of slippery. He warmed up better than ever. During 14 years, it's going to happen, but it never happened to me with a horse this special."
According to veterinarian M.B. Teigland, Prairie Bayou suffered compound fractures, meaning bone pierced the skin, and soft tissue damage. "Unfortunately, it is not the type of injury that can be repaired," Teigland said in a statement released by the track. He reported that Prairie Bayou was given a lethal injection about 30 minutes after the race.
The breakdown was doubly painful for star-crossed owner John Ed Anthony of Loblolly Stable. If Prairie Bayou had simply finished the course, he would have earned a $1 million bonus as the outstanding performer in the Triple Crown, consisting of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. But to qualify for the bonus, a horse must complete each race.
After Prairie Bayou's mishap, only two horses remained eligible for the bonus: Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero and third-place finisher Wild Gale. Wild Gale had to win the Belmont to seize the bonus but could do no better than third, leaving the windfall to Sea Hero owner Paul Mellon, even though his colt finished seventh today.
"I'm sorry that under the circumstances, it's a little sad today," said Mellon, the international sportsman and philanthropist from Upperville, Va. "In any case, I feel very honored to have this."
Although Anthony won the bonus last year with Pine Bluff and took the 1980 Belmont in his first try with 53-1 shot Temperence Hill, he'd had several doses of Triple Crown heartache. Vanlandingham fractured a bone in the 1984 Kentucky Derby and was sidelined a year. In 1987, Derby favorite Demons Begone bled so profusely in the lungs that he was pulled up prematurely and never regained his form.
Bred by Loblolly, Prairie Bayou won seven of 12 starts and was second three other times. With a second-place finish in the Derby and a victory in the Preakness, he forged a 10-race streak in which he finished better than third each time.
Before Prairie Bayou was apprehended on the far turn, Krone knew that she was on the verge of something big. While Cherokee Run nursed a short lead midway through the turn, Krone had a firm rein as Colonial Affair advanced to fourth in close pursuit.
By the time Cherokee Run hit the stretch, he had nothing left to give. Wild Gale was able to squeeze by him along the rail, only to have Colonial Affair charge past both on the far outside.
"I think it's even more thrilling to win one when you turn for home and feel very, very confident," said Krone, 29, the most successful female jockey in racing history.
Getting crisp strokes from the whip, Colonial Affair covered the demanding 1 1/2-mile course in 2 minutes 29 4/5 seconds over a track rated "good," meaning wet. Off at 13-1 in a field of 13 -- matching the third-largest in 125 years of the Belmont -- Colonial Affair paid $29.80 to win and topped a $463.60 exacta and $18,677 triple.
"It goes from everything to delirious to joy to crying to wanting to do it again," said Krone, now one for three in the Belmont. She was the first female to ride in the race when Subordinated Debt finished ninth in 1991.
Without a stakes victory before today, Colonial Affair earned $444,540 for Don Little and Betty Moran of Centennial Farms, near Middleburg. The large bay colt was sired by Pleasant Colony, who lost a Triple Crown bid in 1981 when he finished third in the Belmont.
Colonial Affair -- by Pleasant Colony out of Snuggle -- was bred by Herman Greenberg at Rutledge Farm near Middleburg. A real estate developer, Greenberg lives in the District and keeps a stable of horses in Maryland under trainer Carlos Garcia.
About 45 minutes before the Belmont, West by West outlasted Pimlico-based Valley Crossing and Strike the Gold to take the $400,000 Nassau County Handicap. Devil His Due, the 123-pound highweight and 9-5 favorite, finished fourth but retained his lead in the American Championship Racing Series for older horses.
Ridden by Jean-Luc Samyn and trained by Rusty Arnold, West by West is unbeaten in five starts at Belmont. He's two for 12 elsewhere.