02/01/2008 12:00AM

Texas A&M to study genetics of breakdowns


LEXINGTON, Ky. - More than 150 horses cared for by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation will help advance scientific understanding of breakdowns. The retirees will be the subject of a research project at Texas A&M University that will attempt to determine whether genes might predispose horses to fractures, and, if so, to identify those genes.

"We're looking for some kind of genetic trait that may make the difference," Jana Caldwell, a doctoral candidate who initiated the study, said in announcing the TRF's involvement. A team of equine geneticists led by Dr. Bhanu Chowdhary of the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences will conduct the blind study. The researchers will compare tissue samples from horses who broke down catastrophically with samples from about 170 TRF retirees who made 30 or more starts without suffering career-ending injuries. A group of regulatory veterinarians from around the nation will provide the tissue samples from horses who broke down.

"The TRF horses are all over the country and have been exposed to all kinds of track conditions," Caldwell said.

There undoubtedly are many possible factors in racehorse breakdowns, but the Texas A&M team is focusing on possible genetic predisposition in the hope of someday identifying genetic signatures that could predict which horses might be at higher risk of injury. This project, they say, is the first organized study of the potential genetic aspect in breakdowns.

The research team did not provide a full timeline for their research but said the initial phase could take two years.

A. P Jet pensioned from stud duty

Former leading New York sire A. P Jet, who nearly died in a stallion fight in 2006, has been pensioned from stud duty and will live out his days at Howard Kaskel's Sugar Maple Farm near Poughquag, N.Y. The Fappiano horse is 19.

A. P Jet was injured in April 2006, when he broke loose from a handler and ran to a paddock holding another stallion, Gold Token. The pair fought, eventually breaking through Gold Token's fence, then galloped off. Gold Token struck a tree and died instantly, leaving A. P Jet critically injured with severe kicks to the chest.

A. P Jet was New York's second-ranked sire at the time of the accident. He had led the standings in 2005.

"He didn't cover another mare," Sugar Maple manager Dan Hayden said. "It was too much stress on him to try to cover a mare. But he's doing great. He's in great health otherwise, and he looks fabulous. He's been a great New York sire and a great servant to New York breeders."

A. P Jet's leading runners to date include stakes winners Travelator, Jini's Jet, Karakorum Splendor, and Galloping Grocer. He has more than $15.7 million in progeny earnings and was ranked eighth among New York stallions at his retirement.

A. P Jet is a son of the In Reality mare Taminette, making him a full brother to multiple Grade 1 winner Tappiano and a half-brother to stakes winner My Earl, both of whom set track records in their careers. A. P Jet was a stakes winner in Japan before a syndicate including John Nerud brought him back to stand in New York.

"He had a lot of good overnight horses," Nerud said. "He was never as successful as I thought he'd be, but his broodmares look like they'll be good producers."

Humane Center to hold horse show in March

The Kentucky Equine Humane Center will host an all-breed charity horse show on March 29 at the Shelbyville Fairgrounds in Shelbyville, Ky. Proceeds from the show will benefit the humane center, which provides shelter and adoption services for unwanted horses in Kentucky, regardless of breed, at its Nicholasville, Ky., facility. Show sponsors include John Deere and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

The show will feature dressage, jumping, in-hand, and performance classes as well as competitions for adopted horses and an egg-and-spoon class. More information, including a complete class list and volunteer information, is available at www.kyehc.org.

* Teuflesberg, who was injured during the Grade 3 Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 6, has recovered from surgery and arrived at Hurricane Hall near Lexington, Ky., where he will enter stud with a $10,000 fee.

"Teuflesberg has healed perfectly and is now back to where he can be treated like a normal horse," the colt's surgeon, Dr. Larry Bramlage, said.