Updated on 02/10/2012 5:27PM

Cape Blanco retired with knee fracture suffered in Joe Hirsch win at Belmont

Tom Keyser
Cape Blanco (right) came out of his victory over Dean's Kitten in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic with a slab fracture.

Cape Blanco, who won Saturday’s Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and was a leading contender for the Breeders’ Cup Turf, has been retired from racing after veterinarians discovered a slab fracture in his knee after the race.

The 4-year-old Galileo colt’s stud plans haven’t been announced yet.

Cape Blanco came into Saturday’s race off a 2 1/2-length tally over three-time champion Gio Ponti in the Arlington Million. He also won the Man o’ War this year. In 2010, he won the Irish Derby and Irish Champion Stakes and was Ireland’s highweighted 3-year-old for 9 1/2 to 11 furlongs and 11 to 14 furlongs.

Between his U. S. starts, Cape Blanco returned to Ballydoyle in Ireland for training, a fact that many considered a sign of his toughness.
In the Hirsch, contested over ground that jockey Jamie Spencer called “very testing,” Cape Blanco narrowly held off Dean’s Kitten to win by a nose despite apparently not coping well with the going.

“Cape Blanco is an extremely talented and courageous horse with a tremendous attitude to his racing, so we will all be very sad to see him leave Ballydoyle,” said Aidan O’Brien, who trains Cape Blanco for Mrs. Fitri Hay and a Coolmore Stud-affiliated partnership including Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier, and Michael Tabor. “The fact that he never once changed leads in the home straight in spite of his injury just goes to prove what a brave horse he is. It is very disappointing for all the partners, especially the Hays, as we were very much looking forward to the Breeders’ Cup.”

Jack Ronan and Des Vere Hunt Farm Company bred Cape Blanco in Ireland from their Presidium mare Laurel Delight, who was voted Ireland’s Broodmare of the Year in 2010 on the strength of Cape Blanco’s performances. Cape Blanco is a half-brother to the course-record-setting turf runner Mr. O’Brien, a Grade 2 winner who also was runner-up in the 2004 Grade 1 United Nations Stakes. He’s also a half-brother to the recent French 3-year-old winner Laurelei.

Coolmore agent Demi O’Byrne bought Cape Blanco for the equivalent of about $482,229 at the 2008 Goffs Orby yearling sale. Coolmore stands Cape Blanco’s sire, Galileo.