Updated on 09/17/2011 5:48PM

Tendon tear takes out the speedy Balto Star


Balto Star, the speedy gelding who has earned more than $2.3 million and was pre-entered in two Breeders' Cup races, is out with a tendon injury, leaving no more than 10 starters for the BC Turf.

Based at Belmont Park, Balto Star was found this week to have a slight tear in his right front tendon and will get 90 to 120 days away from the racetrack, according to trainer Todd Pletcher.

"It's small enough where we should be okay to come back," said Pletcher. "Time is the only way to heal it."

Pletcher said Balto Star, a 6-year-old gelding, likely incurred the injury during a five-furlong breeze Monday on the Belmont main track.

Besides the Turf, Balto Star, owned by Anstu Stables, also was pre-entered in the BC Mile, although Pletcher said he was leaning toward the Turf.

"We were kind of excited because there were certain factors that might have played to his strengths, with the tighter turns and harder course," he said. "Obviously, it's a tremendously difficult race to win, but those are things he would have liked."

With Balto Star out, the 1 1/2-mile Turf now has the gray gelding from California, Star Over the Bay, as the horse with the most early speed. His presence insures an honest pace, according to at least one rival trainer.

"Oh, there'll be an honest pace," said Kiaran McLaughlin, who will saddle the stretch-running Mustanfar as a Turf longshot. "Hey, it's a Breeders' Cup race."

Mustanfar, owned by Shadwell Farm, is one of three 3-year-olds likely to run in the Turf. The other two, Kitten's Joy and the British filly Ouija Board, are the probable favorites (assuming Ouija Board does not opt instead for the Filly and Mare Turf). McLaughlin said the fact that Mustanfar looked strong in defeating older horses in his latest start, the 1 1/2-mile Sycamore at Keeneland, was a primary factor in deciding to send the colt to Texas.

"He ran very, very well that day," said McLaughlin. "He was visually impressive, the way he finished up so strong in the middle of the track. This horse has been beaten in a few close photos this year, and Jose Santos told me he wanted to swing him out in the middle of the track to make sure he didn't hang on any other horses. I thought that was very interesting, the way he finished up."

At Fair Hill in Maryland, Turf prospect Better Talk Now worked an easy seven furlongs Friday in 1:34 over the wood chips. Better Talk Now, winner of the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga in mid-August, ran fourth behind Magistretti in the Man o' War, then skipped the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. He will be running on seven weeks' rest.

"That was by design," said Graham Motion, who trains the 5-year-old gelding for Bushwood Stables. "To dance every dance would have asked too much of him."