03/23/2008 11:00PM

Rags to Riches retired due to injury

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Rags to Riches, the champion 3-year-old filly of 2007 and the first filly to win the Belmont Stakes since 1905, has been retired and will be sent to Ashford Stud where she will be bred to Giant’s Causeway later this spring, trainer Todd Pletcher said Monday. The decision to retire Rags to Riches came after she aggravated an injury that had kept her from racing since last fall.

Rags to Riches ends her career having won 5 of 6 starts and $1,340,028 for owners Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith. Her most memorable performance came in the 2007 Belmont Stakes in which she outgamed Curlin – who went on to win Horse of the Year – following a heart-stopping stretch battle to become only the third filly to win the 1 1/2-mile final leg of the Triple Crown. She also won three other Grade 1 stakes at 3: the Kentucky Oaks, Santa Anita Oaks, and Las Virgenes Stakes.

A daughter of A.P. Indy, Rags to Riches became the second consecutive Belmont winner from her dam, Better Than Honour. Jazil, her half-brother by Seeking the Gold, won the 2006 Belmont.

Rags to Riches incurred her only loss of 2007 in the Grade 1 Gazelle Stakes at Belmont Park on Sept. 15, after which it was discovered she’d suffered a hairline fracture of her right front pastern. She returned to Pletcher’s barn earlier this winter and was scheduled to have her third work of her comeback at the Palm Beach Downs training center on Tuesday. But Pletcher was not happy with the way Rags to Riches galloped Sunday morning, and after X-rays revealed the injury it was decided to retire her.

“It’s the same injury she had before” – a hairline fracture of her pastern – “and it was looking like it was not going to hold up,” Pletcher said. “It would have been too great a risk to continue with her, especially if she was not going to come back 100?percent. She has accomplished so much, she will go down in the history books as one of the best fillies ever to run, and it’s a sad day for racing and all of her fans.”

Rags to Riches was scheduled to leave Palm Beach Downs on Monday for Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky.

“She’s a lovely mare, and we feel she will cross with him very well,” Tabor said of Giant’s Causeway.

Rags to Riches, bred by Skara Glen Stables, sold for $1.9 million at the 2005 Keeneland yearling sale.