Updated on 09/17/2011 11:22AM

Midnight Cry breaks down in workout


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Midnight Cry, a Grade 3 winner who would have been one of the favorites in the La Troienne Stakes Thursday at Churchill Downs, was euthanized Saturday morning after breaking down badly during a workout soon after the renovation break.

Midnight Cry was approaching the quarter pole when she shattered the sesamoids in her left foreleg. Exercise rider Hanne Jorgensen was thrown from the filly but was not seriously injured.

Trainer Ken McPeek was watching the work from the backstretch when the breakdown occurred. After confirming that the filly's injuries were determined to be beyond saving her life, McPeek phoned her owners, Shirley Cunningham and Bill Gallion, to relay the sad news.

"That was the hardest call to make," said McPeek, who was visibly shaken by the tragedy. "Midnight Cry is the first horse they'd ever owned."

In her last two starts, Midnight Cry, a 3-year-old by Smart Strike, won the Grade 3 Forward Gal at Gulfstream Park on March 14, then finished third behind My Boston Gal and Bird Town in the April 10 Stonerside Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland. McPeek said he had been toying with the idea of running Midnight Cry in the Kentucky Oaks instead of the La Troienne because the filly had been training so well.

Midnight Cry won three of eight starts and earned $213,152 for Cunningham and Gallion, who raced under the stable name Barrister Hall Stables LLC. She was Grade 1-placed, having finished third in the Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga last August.

Not your average morning

Two incidents that happened Saturday morning caused minor delays for two Kentucky Derby hopefuls during training hours.

First, Ten Most Wanted was coming out of the paddock and getting ready to gallop when Midnight Cry broke down at the quarter pole. Instead of galloping right away, Ten Most Wanted walked from the finish line to the chute, then jogged while veterinarians attended to Midnight Cry. After about 15 minutes, Ten Most Wanted was able to gallop.

Later, Atswhatimtalknbout had finished schooling in the gate and was about to break off into a gallop when a horse got loose at the eighth pole and ran off through the stretch, around the turn and up the backside.

"He had just walked out of the gate," Atswhatimtalknbout's trainer Ron Ellis said. "He stood and watched the festivities."

Meanwhile, Ellis was so pleased with Atswhatimtalknbout's gate schooling that he hasn't decided if needs to bring him back there again.

Belterra retired due to fractured sesamoid

Belterra, one of the top 2-year-old fillies of 2001, has been retired after being diagnosed with a fractured sesamoid.

Bred and owned by Bob Manfuso, and trained by Carl Nafzger, Belterra was a romping winner of all three of her starts at 2, but then won just once at 3 when compromised by illness or injury during much of the year. Following a layoff of about nine months, she returned in mid-March with a third-place finish in the Hurricane Bertie at Gulfstream, which wound up being her eighth and final career start. She was entered in the April 16 Doubledogdare Stakes at Keeneland but was scratched the morning of the race.

Nafzger's assistant, Ian Wilkes, said repeatedly following the Doubledogdare that something was amiss with Belterra but that the nature of her ailment could not be pinpointed. Ultimately, X-rays revealed a small fracture.

Plans to have Belterra bred this spring have not been finalized.

Elloluv has final Oaks tuneup

Elloluv, the likely favorite in the Grade 1, $500,000 Oaks, had her final blowout Saturday morning when going six furlongs in 1:13.52, as timed by Daily Racing Form, over a surface rated good. Her rider, Robby Albarado, was up.

"It was perfect," said trainer Craig Dollase. "It was just a maintenance drill."

Elloluv figures to draw strong support in the Oaks, which will be run Friday, on the strength of a 3 1/4-length triumph in her last race, the April 5 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland.

A field of 12 is holding firm for the Oaks. With riders, the probable field is Atlantic Ocean, David Flores; Bird Town, Edgar Prado; Elloluv, Albarado; Go for Glamour, Alex Solis; Holiday Lady, Jose Santos; In Case of Wind, Calvin Borel; Island Fashion, Pat Valenzuela; Lady Tak, Jerry Bailey; My Boston Gal, Pat Day; My Trusty Cat, Shane Sellers; Santa Catarina, Gary Stevens; and Yell, John Velazquez.

Bob Baffert also had scheduled a Saturday work for Santa Catarina, another of the likely Oaks favorites, but postponed it until Sunday because of the wet track.

Yell, fourth as one of the favorites in the Ashland, is scheduled to be flown from New York on Wednesday.

Entries for the Oaks are to be drawn Tuesday.

Zito takes aim at Oaks

Though disappointed at not having a runner in the Kentucky Derby for the second straight year, trainer Nick Zito remained upbeat Saturday as he talked about the two fillies he plans to start in Friday's Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks.

Zito, who won the Derby in 1991 and '94, with Strike the Gold and Go for Gin, will start both Bird Town and Holiday Lady in the $500,000 Oaks, a race in which Zito's Storm Song ran third in 1997.

Bird Town, a daughter of Cape Town owned by Marylou Whitney, won her maiden at Churchill and was second in an allowance race here last fall. This year, she was explosive winning the seven-furlong Charon Stakes at Gulfstream and most recently was second in the Beaumont at Keeneland. Prado will ride.

Holiday Lady, a daughter of Deputy Commander owned by Tracy Farmer, finished second to My Boston Gal in the Golden Rod Stakes run here last fall. She finished third in the Bonnie Miss and Ashland in her two most recent starts. Santos will ride.

"They both have good credentials," Zito said.

Reflecting on missing the Derby for the second straight year, Zito said, "If I get a hit next year, I'll be batting .333, and that's not bad. I don't want to go 0 for 3 because that means you're on the bench and I don't ever want to be on the bench. I have a lot of nice 2-year-olds, I shouldn't have any excuses next year.'

You and Sightseek breeze together

You and Sightseek, a pair of stakes-winning fillies trained by Bobby Frankel, breezed six furlongs in 1:13 in company Saturday morning at Churchill.

Frankel said the two fillies are "interchangeable" and are both prospects for Friday's Grade 2, $300,000 Louisville Breeders' Cup at 1 1/16 miles or Saturday's Grade 1, $200,000 Humana Distaff at seven furlongs.

"Right now I think I'm going to run You in the Louisville and Sightseek in the Humana to try and get a Grade 1 with her," Frankel said.

Allowance feature lures 10

With the barrage of stakes and high-end allowance races scheduled for later in the week, the 10-race Tuesday card is not exactly blockbuster.

Indeed, the program is dominated by low- to medium-level claiming races. The lone allowance on the carded is the ninth race - and a solid betting race it is, with 10 older fillies and mares entered under conditions of third-level allowances or optional-claiming of $62,500.

Wagering figures to be spread in the seven-furlong feature, although Southern Surprise, a sharp recent winner at Oaklawn Park, might draw the strongest support. Day will ride Southern Surprise from post 1.

Other logical contenders in the field include Traci Girl, Vicki Vallencourt, Meteor Miracle, and Funny Mood.

First post Tuesday through Thursday is 12:45 p.m. Eastern. First post Friday and Saturday is 11:15 a.m.

- additional reporting by David Grening