05/03/2008 12:00AM

Prognosis for Chelokee is guarded


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Chelokee will need “a major piece of surgery” to repair a dislocated right front ankle that he suffered during the running of Friday’s Grade 3 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs, Dr. Larry Bramlage said Saturday. But while his racing career is over, Chelokee could be saved to become a stallion, Bramlage said.

Chelokee, trained by Michael Matz, broke down in upper stretch during the running of the Alysheba, run over a sloppy Churchill Downs track. It was first believed to be a condylar fracture of the right foreleg, but Bramlage on Saturday said that was not the case.

“He had a dislocated ankle where he dislocated the sesamoids about five centimeters up the side of the leg, and that’s what the ambulance [personnel] thought initially was a condylar fracture,” Bramlage said. “It’s a career-ending injury. Hopefully, with a little luck, he’ll be able to be a stallion.”

Immediately after the race Chelokee was transported by equine ambulance to the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky. Bramlage said that Chelokee’s chances of survival are “at least 50-50” and that he would wait for the swelling to subside and the blood supply to increase in the ankle before doing the surgery.

“I’ll look at him again [Sunday] morning,” Bramlage said. “He lost some of the blood supply to his foot, the rest of it is coming back. We have to follow it along until it’s appropriate to make an incision in the soft tissue that he injured. He had quite a lot of swelling and a lot of soft tissue damage.”

Bramlage said the surgery would entail fusing the ankle together with plates, screws and wire. He said the only thing holding the ankle in place currently is the cast.

Bramlage said that Chelokee’s condition had improved overnight and his attitude was terrific.

“We had to actually put a traffic cone in his stall so he had something to play with because he kept trying to pull his [intravenous] line out of the ceiling,” Bramlage said. “He actually did it once, pulled it out of the bag just because he’s looking for something to do.”

Bramlage said the injury was somewhat similar to the one suffered by Barbaro in his right hind leg during the running of the 2006 Preakness. Barbaro survived for eight months before having to be euthanized.

Chelokee, a son of Cherokee Run owned by Centennial Farms, won 5 of 10 starts including the Barbaro Stakes and Grade 3 Northern Dancer. He earned $385,785.