09/30/2010 10:41AM

Grand Couturier finished racing

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Barbara D. Livingston
A multiple Grade 1 winner, Grand Couturier had dealt with some physical issues throughout his career.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Grand Couturier, a multiple Grade 1-winning turf horse who earned nearly $1.5 million, has been retired from racing, trainer Robert Ribaudo said Thursday.

Grand Couturier had dealt with some chronic physical issues throughout his career, including an ankle problem that recently flared up again, which forced the horse to miss the Northern Dancer Breeders’ Cup at Woodbine on Sept. 19.

“He’s basically retiring a sound horse, but because of complications he had through his racing career and the small setback we had recently, both Marc and I wouldn’t be able to live with ourselves if we pushed him,” said Ribaudo, who trained the horse for Marc Keller. “He’s been, in our racing lives, the best thing that ever happened to us.”

Grand Couturier, a son of Royal Lodge bred in Great Britain by Tom Wilson, won back-to-back runnings of the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational in 2007-08 and also took the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational by 10 lengths in 2008.

“The biggest win was the first Sword Dancer because it was our first Grade 1 and he beat a champion in English Channel,” Ribaudo said. “But the most impressive was the Joe Hirsch, when he circled the field and won by 10.”

Grand Couturier began his career in Europe with trainer Jean-Claude Rouget before being purchased by Keller prior to his start in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris, a race where he finished fourth behind Red Rocks and Rail Link. Red Rocks would win that year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf while Rail Link won the Arc de Triomphe.

Grand Couturier’s North American debut came as a 3-year-old in the Sword Dancer at Saratoga where he finished third. It was the first of five consecutive appearances for him in that race.

Grand Couturier, who also won the Grade 2 Bowling Green in 2009, finished with 8 wins from 28 starts and earnings of $1,449,701.

Ribaudo is hopeful that Grand Couturier could find a home either in North America or overseas as a stallion prospect.

“It would be a fitting end to his career,” Ribaudo said.