07/29/2005 11:00PM

Saratoga County put down

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Saratoga County, who developed into one of the top sprinters in the world this year with three stakes victories, was euthanized late Friday after developing laminitis, his connections said Saturday. He was 4.

Saratoga County had been in a local equine clinic for the last month after having a reaction following treatment by a local veterinarian. Owner Evelyn Pollard said Saratoga County had colitis, which developed into laminitis.

"This horse is pretty special to us, as you well know, not just because he made a lot of money," Pollard said Saturday. "He was a character. We had more fun with him in the barn. My kids loved him. He was a personable horse. I loved closers anyway. That's my favorite thing, when I get a closer. I knew he would have been a spectacular stud."

Saratoga County was to have stood at stud next year at The Vinery.

Saratoga County, a son of Valid Expectations, won his debut for a $75,000 claiming price at Saratoga on Aug. 28, 2003. As a 3-year-old, he won the Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct before tailing off. He returned to form in an allowance race at Churchill Downs last November. This year, he won the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector at Gulfstream, the Grade 2 General George at Laurel, and the Group 1, $1 million Dubai Golden Shaheen at Nad Al Sheba in March.

Saratoga County represented the first major horse for trainer George Weaver, a former assistant to trainers D. Wayne Lukas and Todd Pletcher.

"He's my hero," Weaver said. "It's a big loss to us, and we're sad to lose him. Not from the standpoint what he could've done for us in the Breeders' Cup. He was a special horse. It's a shame. He deserved the good life that he earned as a stallion. I'm sure we'll have good horses in the future, but if somebody asks me 30 years from now, my biggest high was in Dubai and the biggest low was losing him."

Saratoga County finished with a career record of 6-4-1 from 17 career starts and earnings of $1,646,590.