05/27/2008 11:00PM

Nashoba's Key injured, euthanized

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Nashoba’s Key, a finalist for the 2007 Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding older female and turf female, was euthanized on Wednesday after suffering a severe leg injury in her stall on the Hollywood Park backstretch.

Nashoba’s Key, 5, was being prepared by trainer Carla Gaines’s for a routine gallop at 5:30 a.m. when she kicked the side of her outdoor pen, according to a person familiar with the incident.

Nashoba’s Key struck the side of the pen with such force that she suffered a fracture to the tibia of her left hind leg. She was euthanized at the barn.

Bred and owned by Warren Williamson, and trained by Carla Gaines, Nashoba’s Key won 8 of 10 starts and $1,252,090.

Gaines was unavailable for comment, but released a one-paragraph statement late Wednesday morning.

"In a freak accident at 5:30 a.m. this morning at Hollywood Park, Nashoba’s Key kicked the wall of her pen and broke her hind leg," the statement said. "She was euthanized shortly thereafter. She brought a lot of joy to everyone’s lives that were lucky enough to be associated with her and we will all miss her very much."

A California-bred filly by Silver Hawk, Nashoba’s Key developed a following last year because of her outstanding record. Around the barn, she was a filly that merited ample respect because of her temper. Gaines often warned visitors not to venture too close to Nashoba’s Key’s stall to avoid angering the filly.

Nashoba’s Key did not start until early 2007, at the start of her 4-year-old season. She won her first seven starts, including five consecutive stakes. The most noteworthy of those wins were the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park last June and the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon Stakes at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting last September.

Nashoba’s Key suffered her first loss in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Monmouth Park last October, finishing fourth behind race-winner Lahudood.

Nashoba’s Key made two starts this year, finishing second in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf in January and winning the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap at Santa Anita in March.

After the Santa Margarita, Gaines said she wanted to give Nashoba’s Key a springtime break to have her ready for the major races of the late summer and fall. She had been galloping for a week at the time of the accident.