07/09/2002 12:00AM

Graeme Hall faces retirement


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Eugene and Laura Melnyk's millionaire Graeme Hall has been sidelined with a hairline knee fracture and is likely to retire from racing.

Eugene Melnyk confirmed that Graeme Hall, a 5-year-old Dehere horse, is taking time off at the Melnyks' Winding Oaks Farm, formerly Mockingbird Farm, in Ocala, Fla. Melnyk said he had no plans to send the horse for surgery.

"We haven't made a decision yet," Melnyk said of the horse's possible retirement. "We're leaning toward retiring him, but we'll make a decision in the next 30 to 60 days. With an injury like this, on the one hand, you'd want to retire him, but on the other hand he might be able to run again in six to eight months."

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Graeme Hall has a race record of 22-7-7-1, for total earnings of $1,147,441. Graeme Hall won the Arkansas Derby and Jim Dandy, both Grade 2 stakes, in 2000, and the Grade 3 Stuyvesant Handicap in 2001. He also won Woodbine's Grade 2 Eclipse Handicap last year.

This year, Graeme Hall finished second in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap in March. He had been pointing for the Brooklyn Handicap on June 15, but Pletcher kept him out of the race when he came out of a workout unsatisfactorily.