Updated on 09/17/2011 11:12AM

Stevens hurt at wire in Million

As Storming Home begins to spook, jockey Gary Stevens struggles to hold on. He was thrown to the ground and then struck by another horse.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - In a spectacular and terrifying finish to the 21st running of the on Saturday, Storming Home, who appeared to be a clear winner inside the sixteenth pole, lunged outward in the shadow of the finish wire. Jockey Gary Stevens clung desperately to the reins but was flung to the ground and was struck by an onrushing horse. Ten minutes later, Stevens was taken off the course on a stretcher. And in another ten minutes, to a cascade of boos from a sweating crowd of 28,614, Storming Home was disqualified to fourth, giving Sulamani the victory.

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Sulamani, a Godolphin runner who paid $7.60 as the second choice, was in danger of missing the Million when he came up with a foot bruise this week, causing him to miss training on Thursday. The French Derby winner of last season, Sulamani began his Million trip from post 1, but wove his way off the fence under David Flores. He came home fast on the grandstand side but was not going to catch Storming Home.

"My horse ran a great race," Flores said, as boos cascaded from the stands long after the disqualification had been announced.

On one of the steamiest days of the summer, the Million began unfolding uneventfully enough. The surprise early leader was the English invader Beauchamp Pilot, who was sent to the lead by Eddie Ahern and set fractions of 24.22 seconds for a quarter-mile and 49.11 for a half. The Tin Man stalked in second, with Perfect Drift at the rail, but the horses to watch were far behind them. Flores had Sulamani on the rail, while Storming Home and Stevens had one horse beat on the backstretch.

But that quickly changed. Moving effortlessly on the outside, Storming Home swept past horses on the far turn, putting himself in position for a final move. At the top of the stretch, he delivered it, punching home with a powerful kick. Sulamani was running, with Kaieteur and Paolini inside him, but Storming Home was the winner five strides from the finish.

And then he spooked. Storming Home has a reputation as a horse with quirks. He races in blinkers, but out of the corner of his eye, he clearly saw something that frightened him. He veered sharply to the right, causing a chain reaction behind him. Stevens lost his seat and fell, was struck by Kaieteur, and lay prone on the track as Storming Home galloped around to the gap on the far side of the turf course.

Stevens, taken away by ambulance, complained of shoulder pain and dizziness but was fully conscious. Storming Home's connections, including trainer Neil Drysdale, huddled on the track in front of the winner's circle, cooling off Storming Home as the stewards reviewed the tape.

The central question was whether Storming Home had ducked out before the wire; he had, and was placed fourth. Kaieteur and Paolini dead-heated for third but were placed second. Storming Home had crossed the line first by a half-length, with Sulamani up by a neck for second. The winning time on a "good" course was 2:02.29.

Sulamani's victory was the 100th Group or Grade 1 win for the international power Godolphin, but it came in bizarre fashion.

"We would obviously have rather gotten it another way," said Godolphin spokesman Simon Crisford.