RETIRED From racing because of bone bruises in four ankles,
Smarty Jones, who hadn't run since June 5, when his one-length
loss to Birdstone in the Belmont Stakes cost him the Triple
Crown. The 3-year-old had been scheduled to return to the races
on Labor Day weekend, at the Pennsylvania Derby in his hometown
of Philadelphia, but trainer John Servis discovered a bruise on
the colt's left front hoof on July 26. The next day Servis sent
his charge to an equine clinic in New Jersey, where vets
performed a nuclear scan of the horse's feet. Owners Roy and Pat
Chapman said that those tests revealed "chronic bruising of the
bottom of the cannon bone in all four fetlock joints."
Smarty Jones captured the attention of the nation by winning more
than $7 million and sweeping through his first eight races before
falling short in the Belmont. His injuries are most likely the
result of that rigorous seven-month campaign, which stretched
from his first start last November through the Triple Crown.
"This type of accumulated inflammation causes all athletes to
cycle in and out of peak form," says Larry Bramlage, a surgeon at
Kentucky's Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, who was consulted on
Smarty's condition. "We bring horses back from this injury all
the time. The risks are minor."
But minor risks are major complications for a colt whose breeding
rights were sold for a reported $48 million five weeks ago. While
the Chapmans and Servis had been adamant about running the eager
chestnut--pointing him to the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic at
Lone Star Park on Oct. 30--speculation about the end of the
colt's career began before he was diagnosed with his first
bruise. How could anyone risk that breeding money by competing?
"Any other horse, you'd turn him out and bring him back in late
October," said Servis last week, "but this is Smarty Jones. I
don't see any way he can earn on the racetrack in a year what he
can earn next spring in the breeding shed." --Mark Beech