Smarty Jones career comes to end
TRAINER JOHN SERVIS WAS HEARTBROKEN BY THE INJURY.ASSOCIATED PRESS
Smarty Jones ran himself out of a long career.
His fragile hoofs no longer able to endure the constant pounding that brought him within a length of the Triple Crown, the 3-year-old red chestnut colt was retired from the sport Monday.
Diagnosed with bone bruises in all four hoofs, the winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness will stand stud at Three Chimneys Farm, occupying the stall of Seattle Slew, the only undefeated Triple Crown winner in history.
It's an appropriate spot for the horse who recovered from a life-threatening accident early in his career and won every race until his last one -- a one-length loss to Birdstone in the Belmont Stakes.
Trainer John Servis had plans for the spunky colt who nearly died a year ago when he fractured his skull in a starting gate accident. But the persistent bruising problem caused him to be scratched from the Sept. 5 Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park, his home track.
Still, Servis hoped to run him in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Lone Star Park in Texas on Oct. 30, with perhaps a warm-up in the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs or the Pegasus in New Jersey. Those plans ended abruptly when a bone scan Thursday revealed the chronic bruising problem.
Servis was heartbroken.
"It hurts me," the trainer said. "He could do things so effortlessly. He might be the best of all time. It's unfortunate people won't see that. I know he's a great horse. I just hope it carries over to the breeding shed.
"He was an exceptional individual. It hurts, but you have to move on."
Dr. Larry Bramlage treated Smarty Jones and said the injury is the result of accumulated inflammation in the fetlocks that serve as a race horse's shock absorbers.
"We bring horses back from this all the time," Bramlage said. "It's not a structural problem and the prognosis for full recovery is excellent. He needs to have an opportunity to move around in the field for a while. They have to have a break."
Smarty Jones' break will be permanent.
"It was a very difficult decision," said Patricia Chapman, who owns the horse with her husband, Roy. "We'd like to see him run again. But we see this happen and if anything else went wrong, it would break our hearts."
"I think we're making the right decision in our hearts," Roy Chapman said.
In nine career starts, Smarty Jones won eight races and earned $7,563,535, including a $5 million bonus from Oaklawn Park for victories in the Rebel Stakes, Arkansas Derby and Kentucky Derby. The Chapmans recently syndicated him for about $48 million.
Robert Clay, owner of Three Chimneys Farm, called injuries the toughest part of horse racing.
"Horses are fragile," he said. "These are 1,100-pound animals with ankles as fragile as ours. These things happen. Smarty Jones had incredible natural speed. We're confident he is one of the greats of all time and will reproduce himself."
Smarty Jones will ship to Three Chimneys in the next two or three weeks with stud fees to be set in the next 30 days.