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Agony of defeat
Charismatic's broken leg ends a promising racing career
Posted: Saturday June 05, 1999 07:44 PM
NEW YORK (AP) -- Charismatic tried so hard to become the first Triple Crown winner in 21 years that he broke an ankle doing it.
"He gave us a lot, he gave America a lot," jockey Chris Antley said after the colt pulled up just past the finish line, third to longshot Lemon Drop Kid in a race where winning was the only thing.
He was taken off the track in a van and returned to trainer D. Wayne Lukas' barn. Dr. Neal Cleary, the New York Racing Association's chief examining veterinarian, said the injury was a lateral fracture of the left front leg. He said Charismatic was comfortable "and he appears to be a surgery candidate."
The NYRA said the injury was not life-threatening but ended his racing career.
"That means he's through as a race horse," Dr. Larry Bramlage said. "We expect him to be fine as a stallion. That means it's the end of his career."
Bramlage said the injury probably occurred "soon after the wire."
Charismatic's loss and injury may have been the result of just what Lukas feared -- the entry of Silverbulletday, the super filly. She couldn't stay the 1 1/2 miles, but she exhausted Charismatic trying to catch her.
Unlike the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, where Charismatic was able to stay out of traffic and make late runs to victory, he went right after Silverbulletday. She is trained by Bob Baffert, who won the first two Triple Crown races the past two years only to lose the Belmont.
The filly took the lead at the top of the backstretch, still a mile from the finish, with Charismatic right behind.
Through a 47.3 second half-mile and a mile in 1:36 2/5, he stalked her, using the effort he had saved in the first two Triple Crown races. He took the lead briefly at the turn, but the effort was too much -- Charismatic held gamely, but Lemon Drop Kid and Vision and Verse flew by him on the outside.
"I can't believe Charismatic ran away with her," said Jerry Bailey, who was riding the filly. "It wasn't a killer pace but you just hate to go eyeball to eyeball early in the race."
"When they hooked up, they were moving right along," said Scotty Schulhofer, the trainer of Lemon Drop Kid, ridden by Jose Santos. "Jose had him perfectly positioned and was able to take advantage."
But the winner became a second thought with Charismatic standing on the track, surrounded by veterinarians and track employees.
"Our feelings are pretty low," said Bob Lewis, who with his wife, Beverly, owns the colt. "Our only concern right now is Charismatic. We hope to God he is going to be fine.
"We accepted the accolades in Louisville and Baltimore and today was just one of those things that happens. What happened today is history."
The winners' jubilation was dampened by news of the injury.
"My heart really goes out to him," said Jeanne Vance, the colt's owner. "I didn't realize he was injured. It's one of the sad things about our business."
Added Schulhofer: "I would feel much better if it hadn't happened."
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