05/25/2012 2:15PM

Monmouth: Zero Rate Policy manages to avoid serious injury in opening day spill

Barbara D. Livingston
Zero Rate Policy sustained multiple cuts and bruises when he fell on opening day at Monmouth Park, but is recuperating at trainer Terri Pompay's barn.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – Trainer Terri Pompay feared the worst when Zero Rate Policy hit the dirt while setting the pace in the Decathlon Stakes, the opening day feature at Monmouth Park.

One moment, the 4-year-old Zero Rate Policy, who took the Rumson Stakes here last summer, was leading the way as the 2-1 favorite. In the next instant, he was on the ground, triggering a four-horse pileup.

As she ran onto the track toward the chaos on the far turn, Pompay braced for disaster.

“I thought he broke his leg,” Pompay said. “When a horse falls down so fast, that’s what you think.”

Much to her relief, Pompay couldn’t find her horse when she arrived at the scene of the spill. Bloodied and bruised, Zero Rate Policy had bounced up and run off.

“When I saw him, I was never so happy to see a horse bleeding in multiple places before,” Pompay said. “It was a miracle. I thought when he hit the ground, he was gone.”

Good fortune rode with the pack that day. All the horses and jockeys survived the spill.

Zero Rate Policy is on the mend. He sports bandages as souvenirs of the close call. He needed stitches and a drain to close wounds in his knee and ankle. It’s a long way back to resumption of training, but the gelding does get out to graze the grass patch outside Pompay’s Monmouth barn.

What triggered the stumble remains a mystery. Neither Pompay nor jockey Paco Lopez has an answer.

“I still don’t know why he went down,” Pompay said. “He lost his footing. Maybe he hit a little loose spot in the track. He’s a big, long-strided horse. Who knows? Weird stuff happens. He was going easy and Paco said he had tons of horse. He’s never done it before.”