10/17/2011 12:14PM

Keeneland: Sassy Image out of Breeders' Cup with ankle injury

Barbara D. Livingston
Sassy Image came out of a Churchill Downs workout injured.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Sassy Image came out of a recent work at Churchill Downs with a chip in a hind ankle and will not run in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, trainer Dale Romans said Monday morning.

“It’s non-displaced and not a bad injury, and she might not even have to have surgery,” said Romans. “Obviously the timing is bad. We think she did it in her last work [Oct. 8]. Now we’ll just let her down, give her some time, and figure out what’s best for her future.”

Romans had been excited about a run in the Breeders’ Cup for Sassy Image, a 4-year-old filly owned by his brother, Jerry. Although the filly ran poorly in finishing sixth and last in her most recent race, the Grade 1 Ballerina on the Aug. 27 Travers undercard at Saratoga, Sassy Image has been a standout on the Churchill main track, winning a remarkable 5 of 6 starts there, including the Grade 1 Humana Distaff on Kentucky Derby Day 2011.

“It’s very disappointing for all of us,” said Romans, who still has Shackleford for the BC Dirt Mile and Dullahan for the BC Juvenile or Juvenile Turf.

Filly OK after going down

Rare is the happy ending when the dreaded screen and horse ambulance rush out onto the racetrack, but that’s what Keeneland fans got in the aftermath of a scary-looking spill that occurred in front of a huge crowd with about 70 yards before the finish line during the 10th race here Saturday.

Irish Exchange, ridden by Gabriel Saez, went down in deep stretch of the six-furlong Polytrack race when she clipped heels behind Coup, ridden by Ramon Dominguez. Coup finished second but was disqualified to last for swerving inward and impeding Irish Exchange, a 2-year-old filly who was temporarily pinned under the inner rail after falling but was extricated from the situation after quick work by the Kentucky state veterinarian, Dr. Bryce Peckham, and several others, much to the fans’ delight.

Saez was released Saturday night from the University of Kentucky Medical Center and was scheduled to return Monday for a magnetic resonance imaging test to ensure that he has no serious injuries.

Meanwhile, Irish Exchange also was not injured, trainer Larry Jones said the next morning. “All she is worried about this morning is eating,” said Jones.

Jones said he was so happy to find Irish Exchange unhurt in the spill that “I had them take her around the screen they had put up to show everybody she was okay.”

Bowling Green crew pack Sycamore

The 2-3-4 finishers in the Bowling Green Handicap last month at Belmont – Center Divider, Bold Hawk, and Sanagas, respectively – form the core of favorites for the Grade 3, $100,000 Sycamore Stakes here Thursday.

This is the entire field for the Sycamore, the eighth of nine Thursday races: Odds On, Eagle Poise, Bold Hawk, Center Divider, Ashtar, Sanagas, Tahoe Lake, and Bim Bam.

The Sycamore is the first of four stakes here this week, followed by the Valley View on Friday, the Raven Run on Saturday, and the Dowager on Sunday.

Good times for Thornbury

What a great 24-hour span it was for Jeff Thornbury. Not only did Thornbury send out Wild About Marie to a 12-1 upset Friday in the $100,000 Franklin County Stakes, giving the 56-year-old trainer his first-ever Keeneland stakes win, but he sent Mad Flatter out to a mild upset of Mambo Meister in the Grade 3, $100,000 Spend a Buck at Calder the following afternoon.

“I may never have anything like that happen again in my life,” said Thornbury, a trainer for 30 years. “It sure was a lot of fun.”

Thornbury said he probably will run Wild About Marie next in the Claiming Crown Glass Slipper, part of the six-race series that will be held Dec. 3 for the first time at Fair Grounds.

Cup decision pending for Together

Together, the 3-year-old Coolmore filly who made Keeneland history by following a runner-up finish in the Grade 1 First Lady with a victory here Saturday in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, was flown back Sunday to trainer Aidan O’Brien in Ireland while remaining a possibility to return for the Nov. 4 BC Filly and Mare Turf.

Together earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 98 in both the First Lady and QE II. O’Brien will have “another 10 days or so to make a decision” on the Breeders’ Cup, said traveling lad Kieran Murphy.

None of the other 3-year-olds in the QE II field will return in the Filly-Mare Turf, their respective connections reported.

Stall out in front

Al Stall Jr. capped a terrific first half to his Keeneland fall meet when he sent out Five Star Fun to a front-running victory under Robby Albarado in the Sunday feature, a $52,888, six-furlong allowance on the Poly.

Stall led all trainers with six wins through the first eight of 17 days here, but he said he will have “only a horse or two to run the rest of the meet.” The 50-year-old trainer won the Bourbon Stakes with Animal Spirits and four maiden special weight races, including one Friday in which a first-timing 2-year-old filly, Applauding, set a six-furlong track record of 1:07.76 on the Poly. Stall said the Grade 1 Starlet on Dec. 10 at Hollywood Park is next for Applauding.