09/11/2005 11:00PM

Bellamy Road injured, won't race till next year

Bellamy Road has an injured splint bone in his right front foreleg.

Bellamy Road, the star-crossed 3-year-old colt owned by George Steinbrenner, will miss the remainder of the year with an injured splint bone in his right foreleg, his connections said Monday.

The injury is similar to the one Bellamy Road suffered in his left foreleg when he finished seventh as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby on May 7. In his only race since then, Bellamy Road finished second to Flower Alley in a gritty effort in the $1 million Travers Stakes last month at Saratoga.

According to Ed Sexton, the racing manager for Steinbrenner's Kins-man Stable, trainer Nick Zito noticed something amiss with Bellamy Road on Thursday. On Sunday, Michael Chovanes, the private vet who works on Steinbrenner's farm, flew to Saratoga and confirmed the injury.

"His body hasn't filled into his bones yet," Sexton said. "Every-thing's not maturing as quickly as it could be. The injury's very minute, but it's time-consuming. We said let's stop for a while, let him put his head down, and take a break. He'll be a hell of a 4-year-old."

Sexton said Bellamy Road will leave Saratoga by van for Florida on Friday and arrive at Kinsman Farm on Saturday. He'll be given ample time off before resuming training for a 4-year-old campaign.

"We'll start training him here, we'll get him three-quarters fit and send him to Nick at Palm Meadows,'' Sexton said.

The injury is another blow to the Breeders' Cup Classic, a race that has incurred numerous defections throughout the year. Ghostzapper and Roses in May, the one-two finishers in last year's Classic, were retired earlier this year, as were developing stars Eddington and Southern Image. Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo is out for the year, and Preakness and Belmont champion Afleet Alex is doubtful to make it back from injury in time to run in the Classic.

Bellamy Road vaulted to prominence in the spring when he won the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct by 17 3/4 lengths, equaling a track record in the process by running 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.16. That performance earned him the status of favorite in the Kentucky Derby.

Last month, as Bellamy Road came off a 112-day layoff, his connections debated whether to run him in the King's Bishop at seven furlongs against Lost in the Fog or at 1 1/4 miles in the Travers, both on Aug. 27. They opted for the Travers, in which Bellamy Road set the pace and gave way grudgingly in the final furlong, falling short of Flower Alley by 2 1/2 lengths.

Sexton said he asked Chovanes if running in the Travers over the King's Bishop may have played a role in the injury.

"He said no," Sexton said. "The fractions in the Travers, they were walking. It was a race from the half-mile pole. If he ran in the King's Bishop he'd have hooked up with Lost in the Fog and he'd have gotten his butt run off for seven furlongs. It was sitting there waiting to happen. The one thing that beat us more than anything was time."