04/19/2005 11:00PM

Sweet Catomine retired from racing

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Sweet Catomine won 5 of 7 starts and earned $1,059,600 in her career.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Sweet Catomine is headed to Kentucky after all - for a career as a broodmare.

Owner Marty Wygod announced Wednesday that the 2004 champion 2-year-old filly has been retired from racing and will be bred this spring to A.P. Indy. Sweet Catomine's retirement is the latest event in a span of controversy that began April 9, when Sweet Catomine finished fifth as the even-money favorite in the Santa Anita Derby.

Post-race comments by Wygod included previously unrevealed disclosures: Sweet Catomine bled in a work, had been sent to a clinic for treatment days before the race, and had been ovulating. An investigation by the California Horse Racing Board determined Sweet Catomine had not been properly signed out when she was shipped to the clinic. The CHRB filed complaints against Wygod, the driver of the van, and the filly's trainer, Julio Canani, for alleged violations including "conduct detrimental to racing."

Sweet Catomine was subsequently removed from Canani's barn at Santa Anita and transferred to the Hollywood Park barn of trainer John Shirreffs. According to Wygod, the decision to retire Sweet Catomine was made following a veterinary exam early this week and was not related to the CHRB investigation or complaints.

"It was totally based on doing the best thing for the filly," Wygod said. Wygod declined to provide specific details and said information could be provided later "when the vets want to talk about it."

Sweet Catomine galloped Tuesday at Hollywood Park and walked Wednesday and appeared healthy and alert while standing at the front of her stall. Wygod agreed, saying, "She looks fabulous."

Sweet Catomine was scheduled to leave California on Thursday, bound for Mill Ridge Farm in Kentucky.

Wygod and his wife, Pam, owned and bred Sweet Catomine, a daughter of Storm Cat produced by the Kris. S. dam Sweet Life. Sweet Catomine won five races and $1,059,600 from seven starts. Her fifth-place finish in the derby was her first defeat since she finished second last summer at Del Mar. She made all seven starts for Canani.

"She did everything we asked her to do," Canani said. "I wish I could get one of those every year. She was a very sound filly. She was never injected, and she never did anything wrong."

matured early and made her debut July 31, 2004, at Del Mar, finishing second against maidens. Raised in class for her second start, she began a tear by winning the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante and followed with wins in the Grade 2 Oak Leaf at Santa Anita and the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, in which she overcame trouble to win by 3 3/4 lengths while running .44 seconds faster than colts did in the BC Juvenile.

The Juvenile Fillies victory clinched the Eclipse Award and established Sweet Catomine as one of the winter favorites for the Kentucky Derby. But her 3-year-old campaign was a bumpy road. Her first start of 2005 was scheduled for Jan. 9 at Santa Anita, but the card was canceled due to wet, unsafe track conditions. Delayed by a week, Sweet Catomine returned Jan. 16 with a modest victory in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel, and two months later she won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks by three lengths. Her fifth-place finish in the Derby was her first try against colts.

Canani maintains that Sweet Catomine's bleeding episode in her final workout before the Derby was minor, and that the ship to a clinic 140 miles from Santa Anita for tissue oxygenation was not necessary. "Good horses, sometimes they get beat," he said.