On a sunny spring morning, Todd Pletcher suffered through a trainer’s worst nightmare.
Intense Holiday, working out for the June 7 Belmont Stakes, suffered a non-displaced condylar fracture of the right foreleg shortly before 9 o’clock Sunday on Belmont Park’s main track. Pletcher said the injury was not life-threatening or even career-threatening, and that veterinarian Dr. Patricia Hogan would perform surgery Sunday in Cream Ridge, New Jersey.
Exercise rider Patti Krotenko dismounted on the clubhouse turn after pulling up the colt, who was walked onto an equine ambulance. Daily Racing Form clocker Mike Vesce said Intense Holiday “didn’t look right in the workout, and he pulled up badly. He didn’t look nearly as good as he did all winter. He usually works tremendously, and today he got beat by Commissioner.’’
Intense Holiday was a workout star at Churchill Downs before the Kentucky Derby, in which he finished 12th behind California Chrome. Intense Holiday skipped the Preakness.
Pletcher likes working his better horses together, and Intense Holiday was in company with Commissioner, who completed 5 furlongs in 1:01.77 for jockey Javier Castellano.
Kentucky-based Starlight Racing owns the son of Harlan’s Holiday, who is 2-for-9 with career eanings of $551,900. Jack Wolf, Starlight’s founder and principal owner, was in the stands watching the workout. Giants executive Chris Mara has been a minority partner since 2012.
It was the second time in five days that Pletcher took a horse out of the Belmont, which he has won twice. The six-time Eclipse Award winner announced Tuesday he was withdrawing Danza, third in the Derby, from consideration. Pletcher said the colt appeared tired and had a minor skin ailment. Last month, his undefeated Florida Derby winner, Constitution, suffered a hairline fracture of the right foreleg (also not career-threatening) in a workout.
As bad as the morning was, the afternoon offered Wolf and Pletcher hope that they may have another serious 3-year-old colt. In the first race, Tiz Dark’s 6¾-length runaway in his second start raised their spirits. The late Bob Murphy called baseball “a game of redeeming features,’’ and so is horse racing.
Notes & quotes: Three other Belmont contenders worked out – Tonalist (5 furlongs, 1:01.66; Wicked Strong (mile, 1:39.59, training track) and Samraat (mile, 1:41.28) … Owner Ron Sanchez said he wasn’t sure if Social Inclusion (third in the Preakness) will run in the Belmont or in the undercard’s Easy Goer Stakes … Derby runner-up Commanding Curve breezed 5 furlongs in 59.80 Friday at Churchill ... The Belmont field stands at 11.