Benny the Bull, the leading sprinter in the country, was retired on Wednesday, which means that Lucky Island likely will be a heavy favorite in Saturday’s Grade I Forego at Saratoga Race Course.
X-rays showed a chip in his right front ankle.
Michael Iavarone, co-president of International Equine Acquisitions Holdings, Inc., which owns Benny the Bull, told the Daily Racing Form that the 5-year-old had been scheduled to retire at the end of the year, anyway, and that surgery to remove the chip would knock him out of the Breeders’ Cup picture.
“I was very sad to hear about that,” said Hall of Famer Edgar Prado, Benny the Bull’s regular rider.
Benny the Bull finished his career with a five-race winning streak that started with the Grade I DeFrancis Dash last November.
He won the Grade I Dubai Golden Shaheen in March, followed by a neck victory over Man of Danger in the Grade I True North Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day and a two-length win over How’s Your Halo in the Grade II Smile Sprint at Calder on July 12.
His record is 9-1-2 from 17 starts for earnings of $2,221,630.
He earned $1,753,080 just from his four victories this year.
With Benny the Bull out of the picture, Lucky Island should be an overwhelming favorite in the seven-furlong Forego.
He hasn’t lost in four starts this year and won the Grade II Tom Fool by 41⁄4 lengths over Tasteyville last time out.
With Benny the Bull out of the Forego, New York Racing Association racing secretary P.J. Campo said the field could be eight or nine, instead of six or so had he run.
“Better to find out today than tomorrow, so I can still put together a field,” Campo said.