08/28/2006 12:00AM

Bluegrass Cat injured, retired


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Bluegrass Cat came out of his second-place finish to Bernardini in the $1 million Travers Stakes on Saturday at Saratoga with a fractured right hind pastern bone and will be retired.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said on Sunday that he noticed Bluegrass Cat was lame in his right hind that morning and X-rays revealed a non-displaced fracture. Copies of those X-rays were sent to two doctors in Lexington to determine whether surgery will be required.

Pletcher said that Dr. Bill Yarborough, who took the initial set of X-rays, felt the fracture could heal on its own, but "that doesn't mean we're necessarily going to let it heal on its own," Pletcher said.

Bluegrass Cat, a son of Storm Cat, is owned by his breeders, WinStar Farm, and will stand at stud there next season in Kentucky. Doug Cauthen, the president of WinStar, said Bluegrass Cat's stud fee would most likely be upward of $50,000, though no price has been set.

"We're losing a star in our racing stable, and naturally we're disappointed, but we got what we think is as exciting a stud prospect as there is in the country," Cauthen said.

Bluegrass Cat, a son of Storm Cat out of an A.P. mare, finished second to Barbaro in the Kentucky Derby, second to Jazil in the Belmont Stakes, and second to Bernardini in the Travers. He also won four stakes, including the Nashua and Remsen as a 2-year-old, the Sam F. Davis in February, and the Grade 1 Haskell on Aug. 6, a race he won by a stakes-record seven lengths.

Though he was beaten 7 1/2 lengths by Bernardini in the Travers, Bluegrass Cat was the only horse who even got close to Bernardini. Pletcher confirmed that Bluegrass Cat blew his left front shoe during the running of the Travers.

"He ran a huge race," Pletcher said. "Of course you have to wonder when [the injury] happened and how it affected his performance yesterday. He goes out on a high note in my eyes. He ran a huge race in the Haskell and ran a huge race yesterday. Considering the circumstances and what we know it makes it even bigger.

"But he's had a tremendous career, a great 2-year-old career, and to win a race like the Haskell with his pedigree and stallion potential . . . in some ways we accomplished all we could accomplish, but it would have been great to take a shot in the Breeders' Cup Classic."

Bluegrass Cat retires with a record of 5-4-0 from 11 starts and earnings of $1,756,280.