08/31/2004 11:00PM

Injury ends Gander's racing career

Email
Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Proud Accolade scores a 5 1/2-length win Wednesday at Saratoga. He is likely headed to the Grade 1 Champagne on Oct. 2 at Belmont.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Gander, the popular 8-year-old New York-bred gelding who banked more than $1.8 million, broke the short pastern bone in his left foreleg during a workout Wednesday and will not race again.

The injury was not deemed life-threatening by Dr. Don Baker, a track veterinarian. Gander was scheduled to undergo surgery Thursday at the Rood and Riddle Equine Clinic in Lexington, Ky. Baker called the injury unusual because the break ran across the bone, rather than up and down, as is usually the case. The short pastern bone is between the foot and the ankle.

"It's a pretty unusual fracture, but it won't be life-threatening," Baker said. "We'll try to get Dr. [Larry] Bramlage to put these pieces together. I think it's one clean break, which bodes very well for the repair."

Gander was breezing five furlongs on the main track at the time of the injury. Exercise rider Simon Harris said he heard a pop nearing the three-sixteenths pole, and immediately pulled Gander up and jumped off as quickly as he could. Gander was vanned off the main track back to trainer John Terranova's barn behind the Oklahoma training track.

"He was up in literally two strides," Terranova said. "Simon did an awesome job."

There were several tense moments as Terranova; his wife, Tonja; and Mandy and Matt Gatsas - who along with their father, Michael, own Gander - waited for the results of Baker's X-rays.

"I can't say enough about him," John Terranova said of Gander. "I just hope he'll be all right and he'll heal up okay.''

The injury occurred one day shy of the six-year anniversary of Gander's first win, which came at Saratoga in his second career start. Gander had a record of 15-10-9 from 60 starts. His earnings of $1,824,011 make him the third-richest New York-bred of all time, behind only Funny Cide and Say Florida Sandy.

Gander, a son of Cormorant, made the first 25 starts of his career for Finger Lakes-based trainer Chris Assimakopolous. Gander was transferred to Terranova in the summer of 2000 and won the Evan Shipman at Belmont that July. Also that year, Gander finished third in the Grade 1 Woodward and second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Gander's biggest victory came in the Grade 2 Meadowlands Cup in 2001. His other stakes wins included the Albany (1999), Evan Shipman (2000), Empire Classic (1999 and 2002), and Kings Point (2004).

Proud Accolade punches Champagne ticket

Proud Accolade validated his impressive maiden win by rolling to a 5 1/2-length entry-level allowance score Wednesday. The win likely earned Proud Accolade a trip to the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne at Belmont Park on Oct. 9.

After going gate to wire when he won his debut by 7 1/2 lengths, Proud Accolade stalked Storm Creek Rising through a half-mile in 45.96 seconds, before challenging for the lead at the quarter pole and drawing clear inside the eighth pole under John Velazquez. Proud Accolade covered 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.66.

"I think he's still learning a little bit. He's still a little bit idle when he makes the lead," said trainer Todd Pletcher, who won his sixth consecutive race here after going 5 for 5 on Monday. "He responded when Johnny asked him to; he wasn't running off with him before that. The great thing about him is he's got loads of ability - he's still learning, he acts like he wants to run further."

Pletcher said he wouldn't entirely discount running Proud Accolade in the Belmont Futurity on Sept. 19, but said, "I like the spacing better to the Champagne."

Injury knocks Pretty Wild out of Forego

The field for Saturday's Grade 1 Forego Handicap is shrinking fast.

On Wednesday, the connections of Pretty Wild and Pohave said their horses would not make the Grade 1 race, albeit for different reasons.

Trainer Stanley Hough said Pretty Wild suffered an injury to his right knee and will be sidelined for the remainder of the year. Hough said it is the same knee that Pretty Wild injured as a 2-year-old that required surgery. Hough said he would not have the knee operated on this time.

"He's been operated on before," Hough said. "We'll just give him more time, lay him up, and wait till spring."

Pretty Wild was coming off a 4 1/4-length victory in a classified allowance race here Aug. 13, when he recorded a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 110.

Meanwhile, trainer Doug O'Neill said he decided to keep Grade 1 winner Pohave in Southern California rather than ship to New York.

Those two defections leave the Forego with an expected field of eight: Strong Hope, Midas Eyes, A Huevo, Clock Stopper, Gygistar, Yessirgeneralsir, Unforgettable Max, and Toccet.

Nonsuch Bay retired, will be sold

Nonsuch Bay, a Grade 1 winner in New York, has been retired and will be sold as a broodmare prospect at Fasig-Tipton's mixed sale in Lexington, Ky., in November.

Trained by Frank Alexander, Nonsuch Bay won the Grade 1 Mother Goose and Grade 2 Nassau County Breeders' Cup at Belmont Park in 2002. A 5-year-old daughter of Mr. Greeley out of Brighter Than Gold, Nonsuch Bay retires with earnings of $747,078 and a record of 7-5-8 in 27 starts.

Nonsuch Bay, who is owned by Thorn Stable, was a fussy shipper, and that is one of the reasons she was retired now instead of at the end of the year.

"The graded races in New York were too tough for her, so we would have had to ship her out of town and she fretted a bit about shipping," Alexander said. "She was getting beat by horses that she should have been beating."

Seattle Fitz may skip Woodward

Seattle Fitz, who finished last in the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap here Aug. 7, is unlikely to run in the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodward at Belmont Park on Sept. 11.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Seattle Fitz hasn't had a work since the Whitney because he was suffering from a small abscess on the bulb of his heel.

"That and the weather has made it tough for us," McLaughlin said. "He's not quite 110 percent. In the next 10 days, if he gets 110 percent, we could run. But we will probably wait for the Jockey Club Gold Cup."

The $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup will be run at Belmont Park on Oct. 2

A 5-year-old, Seattle Fitz won the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont in June. From four starts at Belmont, Seattle Fitz has won two races and has one second.

Medallist fine after King's Bishop

Medallist, who finished seventh as the favorite in last Saturday's Grade 1 King's Bishop, came out of the race in good order, according to trainer Allen Jerkens.

Jerkens said Medallist will get a freshening, but would probably run again this year. When asked if the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap at Aqueduct on Nov. 27 was a possibility for Medallist, Jerkens said, "Sure."

Medallist, who set the pace in the King's Bishop, had a narrow lead leaving the turn and began drifting out as he entered the stretch. When he won the Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct in May, Medallist bore out badly in the stretch.

Jerkens said he looked at Saturday's incident as Medallist ducking out, rather than making the more abrupt move he made in the Withers.

* After winning five races Monday, jockey John Velazquez went 3 for 4 on Wednesday's card, bringing his total to a meet-leading 58. He won a Saratoga record 61 races in 2003.

* Wonder Again worked three furlongs in 37.11 seconds over the Oklahoma turf course Wednesday. It was her first breeze since winning the Grade 1 Diana here July 31. She is scheduled to make her next start in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl at Belmont on Oct. 2.

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson