08/22/2006 12:00AM

Saint Liam dies after freak fall

Saint Liam, the 2005 Horse of the Year, has 115 mares in foal this year.

Saint Liam, the 2005 Horse of the Year and champion older handicap horse, was euthanized on Tuesday afternoon at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital near Lexington, Ky., after fracturing his left tibia in a fall at Lane's End Farm.

The 6-year-old Saint Liam suffered the injury while being led to the paddock, according to a release from the farm. Dr. Larry Bramlage, the surgeon at Rood and Riddle who attended to Saint Liam, said that the horse fell with his left leg underneath him, and that his left tibia - a bone located just above the hock - had shattered into 20 pieces.

"Apparently he was just goofing off, and he fell," Bramlage said. "Horses' legs are made to go front-to-back very efficiently, but they don't go side-to-side very well. Somehow he got his leg underneath him and just so happened to land on top of the leg."

Bramlage said the horse arrived at the hospital at approximately 3:30 p.m. Eastern. The decision to euthanize the horse was made approximately 45 minutes later after Saint Liam's broken leg was radiographed.

"On the X-rays you could see that there wasn't anyplace at all where you could put any screws to stabilize the leg," Bramlage said. "There were no options to stabilize it or put it in a cast."

Bramlage also said that the fracture had broken the skin, and that "infection was an issue."

"He was tough," Bramlage said. "But most really good racehorses are tough."

Saint Liam was in his first year at stud at Lane's End, and was owned by a syndicate. He was raced by William and Suzanne Warren, and trained by Richard Dutrow Jr. during his championship season.

On Sunday night, Dutrow accepted an award from the New York Turf Writers Association for Saint Liam's New York performances last year. While accepting the award, Dutrow called Saint Liam "a very special horse" whose personality was one of his most endearing traits. Dutrow could not be reached for comment on Tuesday,

Saint Liam's stud fee was $50,000 live foal. According to a release from Lane's End, Saint Liam has 115 mares in foal this year.

won four Grade 1 races, including the Breeders' Cup Classic at Belmont Park, on his way to Horse of the Year honors in 2005. He retired with a record of 9 wins, 6 second-place finishes, and 1 third-place finish from 20 starts, with career earnings of $4,456,995.

Saint Liam's 2005 campaign was by far his best year, though he won the Grade 2 Clark Handicap in 2004 and finished second in both the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes and the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap.