05/07/2008 12:00AM

Chelokee recovering well after surgery


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Chelokee, who broke down last Friday in the Grade 3 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs, is recovering well from surgery to fuse bones in his right front ankle, according to the colt's owner, Centennial Farms.

An update posted Tuesday on the Centennial Farms website said that Chelokee, a 4-year-old son of Cherokee Run, underwent surgery Monday at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington. Dr. Larry Bramlage performed a procedure called fetlock arthrodesis, in which he fused bones in the ankle and replaced ligaments in the back of the foreleg.

"Everything went as planned, and Chelokee is doing very well," Bramlage said. "He is walking well on both forelimbs."

Bramlage also said Chelokee is "begging for peppermints and tried to nip me as I walked out of his stall" and is eating well.

Plans call for Chelokee's cast to be removed in two weeks, at which point Bramlage will reevaluate the colt's condition.

"Originally given a 50-50 chance of recovery, we are delighted to report that odds are now in our favor," the Centennial statement concluded. "If two weeks pass with no additional complications, then the odds of a full recovery will then rapidly increase."

Chelokee is trained by Michael Matz. He won last year's Grade 3 Northern Dancer Stakes at Churchill and the inaugural running of the Barbaro Stakes at Pimlico, and he also placed in the Grade 1 Florida Derby last season.

Centennial Farms purchased Chelokee for $290,000 at the 2005 Keeneland September sale. Since then, he has earned $385,785 from 5 wins in 10 starts. His injury is career-ending.

Chelokee is out of the Grade 2-placed Silver Ghost mare Dixie Ghost and is half-brother to Grade 2 winner Salute the Sarge and to Grade 2-placed Mymich.