06/22/2004 12:00AM

Puzzlement dies at 5


Puzzlement, a graded stakes winner in New York and Florida, died last week at a Florida clinic from complications of a tendon infection.

The infection was diagnosed in February while Puzzlement, a 5-year-old, was in training at Gulfstream Park with trainer Allen Jerkens. A Florida-bred son of Pine Bluff, Puzzlement had been undergoing treatment at the Palm Beach clinic since Feb. 27 until the time of his death.

Owned and bred by Joseph Shields Jr., Puzzlement had his major victories in last year's Grade 2 Saratoga Breeders' Cup, where he defeated the 2002 Breeders' Cup Classic winner, Volponi, and the Grade 3 Hal's Hope at Gulfstream on Jan. 3. In Puzzlement's last start, he finished fourth in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 7.

Puzzlement had a record of 6-3-5 from 22 starts and career earnings of $717,590.