02/03/2015 12:25PM

Cigar Street injured, will miss Donn

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Barbara D. Livingston
Cigar Street ran seventh in the Breeders' Cup Classic, making him the top-finishing older horse.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Cigar Street, who emerged last year as one of the top older horses in America, was injured in a recent workout, which explains his absence from the lineup for the Donn Handicap on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

Co-owner Jake Ballis said this week that Cigar Street injured his left knee in a Jan. 12 workout at Payson Park and is expected to be out for at least several months.

“We’ve been informed the injury is not career-threatening and should heal in time,” Ballis said this week from Lexington, Ky. “If all goes well, he should be able to get back to 100 percent.”

Ballis, who co-owns six horses, including Cigar Street, with NBA player Rashard Lewis, said Cigar Street will spend 60 to 90 days at the Classic Mile in Ocala, Fla., before being re-evaluated.

“It’s pretty unfortunate and untimely,” said Ballis. “We were looking to run Saturday in the Donn, then maybe even go to Dubai.”

Cigar Street, a 6-year-old horse by Street Sense trained by Bill Mott, has been highly regarded since earning a 101 Beyer Speed Figure in a maiden win as a 3-year-old in March 2012. He raced twice at 4, winning both times, including the Skip Away (104 Beyer) at Gulfstream. He then was laid up for nearly 17 months before returning to race three times last year as a 5-year-old, winning one race, the Homecoming Classic at Churchill Downs.

In his final start last year, the Nov. 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita, he finished seventh at 11-1. Three-year-olds finished first through sixth in the BC Classic, making Cigar Street the top-finishing older horse.

“We toyed with the idea of retiring him after this latest injury came up, but since he’s not a Grade 1 winner, we thought we’d wait another year to see if we can’t knock that out,” said Ballis.

Meanwhile, Mott still has Lea, the defending champion, for the Grade 1, $500,000 Donn, for which entries were to be taken Wednesday.

Lea, with Joel Rosario to ride, will be the 121-pound highweight in a field of about 11 expected for the 1 1/8-mile Donn. The Donn will be co-featured with the San Antonio Stakes from Santa Anita on the leadoff telecast in the Jockey Club Tour on FOX series (5:30-7:30 p.m. Eastern).

Lea, bred and owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, earned a 114 Beyer in winning the Donn last year. Now 6, he was sidelined for 11 months afterward before returning to win the Jan. 10 Hal’s Hope at Gulfstream in last-to-first fashion.

Also featured on the FOX show will be the Grade 1, $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile race that is expected to lure some of the top turf horses on the East Coast. Starting with the highweights, the expected field includes Imagining, 120 pounds; Summer Front, 119; Mshawish, 118; Lochte, 117; and probably another four or five starters.

Four other stakes also are on tap for another terrific Saturday card. They are the Grade 3, $150,000 Suwanee River for filly and mare turfers; the Grade 3, $100,000 Fred Hooper for older horses at a mile on dirt; and a pair of $75,000 turf sprints, the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint (older horses) and the Texas Glitter (3-year-olds).