05/06/2008 12:00AM

Heart failure or aneurysm ruled out, owner says


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Preliminary results from the necropsy on Eight Belles showed that the filly did not have heart failure or an aneurysm before breaking down in Saturday's Kentucky Derby, according to her owner, Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farms.

Eight Belles finished second behind Big Brown in the race but was euthanized after suffering condylar fractures in both front ankles as she galloped out.

Kentucky state stewards and state veterinarian Dr. Leif Nichols ordered the necropsy, the term for an autopsy performed on animals, and the procedure took place at the Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center in Lexington. Porter was unsure what day the necropsy took place.

A full report from the necropsy is expected to take at least two weeks. Eight Belles has been cremated, but Porter has not yet decided on an interment site.

"The initial report didn't show anything other than what it appeared to be," Porter said. "There was nothing with the heart or an aneurysm or anything like that. It came from the leg injuries.

"I know [trainer] Larry Jones wanted her tested for steroids, because he told me they were accusing him of using steroids because she was such a big filly, and I don't know how that's coming," he added, referring to protests against Jones by animal-rights groups. "I'm sure the results will be negative."

Porter noted that Eight Belles is by a large sire, the 17-hand Unbridled's Song, and said that the 3-year-old filly was not on anything other than Lasix, also known by the trade name Salix, a diuretic that is commonly and legally used on the racetrack to reduce blood pressure in the lungs during exercise.

"As far as I'm concerned, I'll be glad if they test her for anything," Porter said. "I see the bills, and I know Larry Jones, and I know he's not using anything that would be detrimental to the health of the horse. I know he puts the horse absolutely first. I see all the vet bills from Larry, and it's rare that I see a vet bill of $100 a month on a horse. I've never gotten a bill for an injection in two years.

"I didn't think we would find anything," Porter said of the necropsy. "I don't know what we can prove by it. I think it was just a tragic breakdown. . . . She was galloping out beautifully, absolutely normally, and then boom."