06/18/2011 7:23PM

Belmont Park: Unrivaled Belle injured in paddock, retired

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Barbara D. Livingston
Unrivaled Belle, winning last fall's Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic. will become a broodmare after breaking her withers in a fall in the Belmont Park paddock.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Unrivaled Belle broke her withers when she fell backward waiting to be saddled for Saturday’s Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park and was subsequently retired from racing, her connections announced early Saturday evening.

 Trainer Bill Mott said he guessed immediately that Unrivaled Belle had broken her withers and X-rays taken back at the barn confirmed his suspicions. While Mott said he has had horses return to the races and win following such an injury, there isn’t enough time remaining in the year to get Unrivaled Belle back. She was going to be retired at year’s end.

 “If she were a gelding you’d give her six months off and she’d come back and she’d be fine,’’ Mott said. “By the time you give her the time to heal up the year’s going to be over. We’ve had horses do that before, it’s not an uncommon injury. I’ve had horses come back and win races before, I had horses come back and win a stake.’’

Unrivaled Belle has been known to be difficult in the paddock and on the track prior to her races. Mott expressed frustration over what he felt was an inordinate amount of time Unrivaled Belle was in the paddock before the tack was brought out.

“It took so long to bring the saddles out, if we came in the paddock and the saddles were there and put the saddle on her I could have handed her over to the pony,’’ said Mott, who had made arrangements to have Unrivaled Belle be led out from the paddock to the track first. “We walked and walked, and the longer we walked the more buzzed up she got. It’s one thing to wait five minutes, but why should you have to wait any longer than that?’’

 Unrivaled Belle, a 5-year-old daughter of Unbridled’s Song owned and bred by Peter Vegso and Gary Seidler, won 6 of 14 starts,  including four stakes,  highlighted by last year’s Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic victory at Churchill Downs.

 “She was a very talented race horse, she proved that on Breeders’ Cup Day,’’ Mott said. “It would have taken a champion to beat her that day.’’

 Earlier in 2010, Unrivaled Belle defeated the 2009 Horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra, in the Grade 2 La Troienne, also at Churchill Downs. One of the primary reasons she was brought back to race this year was because the Breeders’ Cup will again be held at Churchill Downs.

 “It wasn’t something on the racetrack,’’ Mott said of the injury. “She didn’t break a leg or anything like that. She’ll be sound to be a broodmare. We’ll just have to look for another race horse. Nothing is forever.’’