08/27/2006 12:00AM

Bluegrass Cat retired with injury


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Bluegrass Cat, the Haskell Invitational winner who finished second to Bernardini in Saturday's $1 million Travers at Saratoga, came out of that race with a fractured right hind pastern bone and will be retired, trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunday morning.

Pletcher said he noticed that Bluegrass Cat was lame in his right hind Sunday morning and that X-rays revealed a non-displaced fracture.

"We don't know yet whether it's going to require surgery or not, but at this stage of his career it will be a retirement situation," 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.

Bluegrass Cat finished second to Barbaro in the Kentucky Derby, second to Jazil in the Belmont Stakes and second to Bernardini in the Travers. He also captured 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 Saturday's Travers, Bluegrass Cat was the only horse who got even close to Bernardini.

"He ran a huge race," Pletcher said of Bluegrass Cat."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," Pletcher added.

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

Meanwhile, Bernardini came out of his Travers victory in good order and will be pointed to the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup on Oct. 7 at Belmont Park where he will most likely meet Invasor, a winner of three Grade 1 wins in the handicap division this year.

"I'm glad we got this race and I'm looking forward to taking on a new challenge," said Tom Albertrani, the trainer of Bernardini."I always think the older horses have an advantage just because they're more mature, but this horse he's maturing himself with every race. He just seems like he's getting better and better every time he runs. I think he stacks up pretty well with the older horses."

Albertrani said that regardless of what happens in the fall, Bernardini should be strongly considered for the 3-year-old championship over Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, who was injured in the Preakness.

"We know how special a horse Barbaro was but this certainly showed to us after yesterday how great Bernardini is as well," Albertrani said."With all of his performances he always win by daylight and I think you have to give him a lot of consideration."