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BROKEN Dream
William Nack
June 14, 1999
Charismatic's Triple Crown bid came to a terrible end with a breakdown in the Belmont, overshadowing Lemon Drop Kid's long-shot win
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June 14, 1999

Broken Dream

Charismatic's Triple Crown bid came to a terrible end with a breakdown in the Belmont, overshadowing Lemon Drop Kid's long-shot win

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"I'm optimistic," she replied. "There's no swelling in the area. Anytime you have a fracture, it can slice through the soft tissues, but that hasn't happened here."

X-rays revealed that Charismatic had suffered not only a displaced lateral condylar fracture, with the break extending about three inches—from the ankle halfway up the cannon bone—but also a fractured sesamoid bone in the ankle joint. On Sunday he underwent surgery to insert four screws in the cannon bone. "He's through as a racehorse," said Larry Bramlage, an equine surgeon on the scene. There's no telling exactly when the injury occurred, but Bramlage said, "Bones crack a lot like porcelain. They may get a little bit of a crack in the midst of a race, and men all of a sudden it's like a coffee cup that just splits apart."

While Schulhofer, jockey Jose Santos and the Lemon Drop Kid's other connections were off to celebrate—"I don't think I've ridden a horse so hard in my life," said his owner, Jeanne Vance; "every stride, we were yelling at him"—the Charismatic crowd and Lukas gathered gloomily around his barn. This was the second time in three years that Bob and Beverly Lewis, Charismatic's owners, had just missed pulling off the Triple. (They also own Silver Charm.)

Lukas has been widely criticized for pushing horses too hard—several of his major stakes winners, such as juvenile champion Flanders, Preakness contender Union City and Preakness winner Tank's Prospect, have broken down in competition—but he can't be faulted for the injury to Charismatic. Not only was the horse sound, but Lukas had also trained and managed him brilliantly since that February claimer.

"That's the nature of this game," Lukas said. "What can I say? I feel bad now, but I'll feel a heck of a lot worse in the next week or two. So be it. We'll make the best of a very bad situation."

For his part, Charismatic will soon be asked to make the most of a very good one. His racing days may be over, but now he is headed for the breeding shed.

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