08/27/2008 11:00PM

Benny the Bull retired after injury

Jim Lisa
Benny the Bull was retired after it was discovered he injured his right front ankle in preparing for Saturday's Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga.


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Benny the Bull's racing career is over.

The top sprinter in the country, Benny the Bull was found to have a chip in his right front ankle Wednesday morning, two days after he worked six furlongs in 1:14.29 at Aqueduct in preparation for Saturday's Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga. X-rays taken Wednesday morning at trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.'s Aqueduct barn revealed the chip.

Benny the Bull would have to undergo surgery to remove the chip, and thus he would miss the remainder of the year, including the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Since his connections were going to retire him at the end of the year anyway, the decision was made to retire him now.

"He's given us so much," said Michael Iavarone, co-president of the International Equine Acquisitions Holdings Stable, which owns majority interest in the colt. "He's a horse that hasn't missed a beat the last 15 or 16 months. It's time to retire him."

Iavarone said stallion plans are pending for Benny the Bull, a 5-year-old Florida-bred son of Lucky Lionel who won 9 of 17 starts and earned $2,221,630. International Equine purchased Benny the Bull from owner Greg James last summer. In eight starts for IEAH and Dutrow, Benny the Bull won five stakes, including the Grade 1 De Francis at Laurel Park last year, the Sunshine Millions Sprint, Grade 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen, Grade 2 True North, and Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap this year.

"I think what got us all excited was the Sunshine Millions race when he freaked," Dutrow said Tuesday, before knowing of Benny the Bull's injury. "It looked like he could have beaten any sprinter that day. His other races he's just been grinding it out, but that day he looked like a special sprinter."

"There's ups and downs in this game, but I don't even view this as a down," Iavarone said. "The horse has retired without something terrible happening and hopefully he'll live a happy and healthy life."

The defection of Benny the Bull from the Forego could leave Lucky Island the favorite. His challengers are expected to include Eternal Star, Ferocious Fires, First Defence, Premium Wine, Real Estate, and possibly Bold Start, Forefathers, and Tasteyville.

Mambo in Seattle headed to Super Derby

Mambo in Seattle, a hard-luck second to Colonel John in last weekend's Travers Stakes, will be pointed to the $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 20, trainer Neil Howard said Wednesday.

"It's a mile and an eighth, the timing is pretty decent, it's a nice race, good purse, still with 3-year-olds," Howard said. "That's probably what we're going to do right now."

Mambo in Seattle returned to the track Wednesday for the first time since the Travers. He jogged 1 5/8 miles the wrong way around the main track.

Though Mambo in Seattle has been beaten twice on synthetic surfaces, Howard said the Breeders' Cup Classic, being run on the synthetic surface at Santa Anita, remains an option for Mambo in Seattle, though he is not letting himself think that far ahead.

"The first time he ever ran, he was a good second on Polytrack," Howard said. "In his first race this year, he wasn't overly cranked up, so he figured to get tired. I wouldn't be overly concerned if he did run on a synthetic track, but [the Breeders' Cup] is not something we're thinking too much about right now."

Past the Point, Desert Party are Harty's next

Trainer Eoin Harty would love this weekend to be a repeat of last weekend, when he won one Grade 1 race and finished a close second in another.

Harty, who last Saturday won the Grade 1 Travers by the slimmest of margins and on Sunday finished second in the Pacific Classic with Well Armed, will send out Past the Point against Curlin in this Saturday's Grade 1 Woodward and potential favorite Desert Party in Monday's Grade 1 Hopeful.

"If I could knock off the Travers and the Hopeful, I just don't really think I could top that," Harty said Wednesday from Southern California. "That would be something else."

On Wednesday, Desert Party worked a strong five furlongs in 59.26 seconds over the main track under exercise rider Anna Hollander. The work, in which Desert Party got his last three furlongs in 35.52 seconds, was the fastest of 12 at the distance.

"I talked to Anna and she was full of enthusiasm," Harty said. "I think he's fit and he's ready. If he's good enough, he'll be right there."

Meanwhile, Past the Point is coming off a sharp 1 1/2-length victory in a second-level allowance race here on Aug. 3. He earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 103 in that race. His second-best Beyer Figure was a 93, also achieved over this track in a restricted stakes last August.

Harty understands it will be a tall order to beat Curlin, but he would consider the race a success if Past the Point could get a top-three finish.

"Hopefully he's got a long career ahead of him," Harty said. "If there's a chance to pick up some graded money along the way, I hate to shun such an opportunity.''

A field of five is expected for the Woodward: A. P. Arrow, Curlin, Divine Park, Past the Point, and Wanderin Boy. Out of Control is possible.

Cagey Girl wires Wilmot for Duggan

Trainer David Duggan's unbelievable summer continued Wednesday when Cagey Girl, the longest price in the nine-horse field, went gate to wire under Mike Luzzi to win the $83,250 Mollie Wilmot Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths over Nedjma.

It was a neck back to Nehantic Cat in third.

It was the sixth victory from 15 starts for Duggan at this meet and his third stakes win.

Cagey Girl, a daughter of Crowd Pleaser owned by North Shore Racing, covered the mile in 1:36.01 and returned $47.

Castellano to become a U.S. citizen

Javier Castellano will not be riding here Friday, but for a very good reason.

On Friday, Castellano will be in Miami, where he will be sworn in as a U.S. citizen. Castellano, 30, moved to the United States from his native Venezuela in 1997 and began riding in south Florida.

"It's so exciting for me," Castellano said between races Wednesday. "I've been waiting for this for so many years. I've been here 11 years."

Castellano has ridden 14 winners at the meet.

* Jackie Davis, the 21-year-old daughter of retired jockey Robbie Davis, is named to ride Shifty Guy in Friday's fifth race. It will be her first career mount. Shifty Guy is trained by Allen Jerkens, for whom Davis has worked since January as part of her educational requirements through Chris McCarron's North America Riding Academy.