09/01/2006 12:00AM

Hirapour hurt in Turf Writers


Hirapour, the steeplechase champion of 2004, was injured in the New York Turf Writers Cup on Thursday at Saratoga, possibly ending his career a few months earlier than expected.

Trainer Doug Fout said that the 10-year-old gelding, who was scheduled to be retired at the end of the season, came out of the race with damage to his right front ankle and was lame Friday morning.

"Unfortunately, I think he might have a chip in his ankle," Fout said.

Fout said he did not know whether surgery would be needed. Hirapour was sent to Morven Park in Leesburg, Va., Friday to be examined. He underwent surgery on his left front ankle in November and returned to competition on

Aug. 10 with a victory in the A.P. Smithwick at Saratoga.

In the Grade 1 Turf Writers Cup, rider Matthew McCarron had Hirapour several lengths off the pace for almost two miles. When McCarron put him in position to make his run entering the backstretch the final time, Hirapour nearly fell going over the fence and then had no response.

"Matt said he went from a ton of horse to absolutely nothing, nothing in the tank at all," Fout said. "Something had to happen there."

Hirapour has won 12 of his 21 steeplechase starts for $629,377 in earnings.

The Breeders' Cup Steeple-chase will be run on Oct. 28 this year in Far Hills, N.J.