New York lost one of its most popular horses last Saturday morning when Caixa Eletronica was one of two horses killed in a freak collision on the Belmont Park training track.
The 9-year-old son of Arromanches, a former claimer who went on to become a four-time graded-stakes winner, including the $1 million Charles Town Classic in 2012, was hit by a loose horse while galloping.
Six Drivers spooked at the starting gate and unseated Julio Pezua, then turned around and ran clockwise, crashing into Caixa Eletronica heading in the opposite direction near the five-eighths marker.
Both horses died on the track, as Caixa Eletronica suffered a skull fracture and Six Drivers, a maiden who was scheduled to race last week, broke his neck. Exercise rider Carlos Castro, on Caixa Eletronica, was taken to the hospital with a broken pelvis and facial injuries.
“It’s a terrible day for racing,” owner Mike Repole told the New York Racing Association. “For any horse, it’s horrible. When you hear it’s Caixa Eletronica, it’s magnified.”
Caixa Eletronica hit his best stride after he was claimed by trainer Todd Pletcher for $62,500 on behalf of Repole in 2011. With Repole and Pletcher, Caixa Eletronica won seven stakes, including the 2011 Grade III Westchester, 2012 Grade II Charles Town Classic, 2012 Grade II True North Handicap and 2012 Grade III Fall Highweight Handicap.
His last start was a fourth in the Fall Highweight on Nov. 28.
Caixa Eletronica was 23-9-11 in 69 starts, with more than $1.8 million in earnings.
He started 10 times at Saratoga Race Course, including three races in 2013 and three in 2012.
After winning two starter handicaps at Saratoga in 2011, Caixa Eletronica finished off the board in the James Marvin, Whitney and Forego in 2012 .
Last season, he won a starter handicap and was fifth in the Grade II A.G. Vanderbilt.
Repole told the Daily Racing Form that Caixa Eletronica was due to be sent to the Frankel Division of Old Friends in Greenfield when he was retired.
“He was such an iron horse,” said Repole. “For him to pass away like this makes no sense. I told Todd, ‘If this horse ever gets a pimple on his rear, I’ll retire him.’ Todd said, ‘I wish my 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds were super sound like this horse.’ ”
Besides Caixa Eletronica, the racing world was hit with several other deaths to notable horses recently.
Laughing died from complications of colic on Tuesday, one day after she was named one of three finalists for the Eclipse Award in the female turf division.
In 16 career starts, 12 of which came in North America, the daughter of Dansili did some of her best work at Saratoga, winning the Grade I Diana and Grade II Ballston Spa last season.
Her Ballston Spa win was one of the highlights of the meet, as she ran on the front end with Pianist, trained by Mechanicville native Chad Brown, breathing down her neck the whole way.
Laughing, trained by Alan Goldberg and owned by Richard Santulli, never gave in and won by a neck.
After a win in the Grade I Flower Bowl at Belmont Park, she was seventh to Dank in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.
The racing world also lost Silver Train, the 2005 BC Sprint winner.
Like Laughing, he succumbed to colic on Dec. 29 while traveling from Brazil to the U.S. for stallion duty.
He broke his maiden at Saratoga in 2004 and went on to become a four-time graded stakes winner, adding a second Grade I in the 2006 Met Mile.
COACH Q’S HORSE
Two-time Stanley Cup-winning coach Joel Quenneville has a Kentucky Derby prospect who will be running at Santa Anita today.
Midnight Hawk, a son of Midnight Lute trained by Bob Baffert, is the 8-5 morning-line favorite for the Grade III Sham, which carries 10 Derby qualifying points.
Also among the owners is former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Tice, who was named offensive line coach of the Atlanta Falcons on Wednesday.
Midnight Hawk was an impressive 61⁄4-length winner at Hollywood Park on Dec. 13.
Grade I winner The Lumber Guy, the 2012 New York Thoroughbred Breeders Horse of the Year, has been retired and will stand at Keane Stud in Amenia in Dutchess County.
The Lumber Guy, who had over $790,000 in career earnings, was winless in five 2013 starts, after winning the Vosburgh and finishing second to Trinniberg in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 2012.
His best finish in 2013 came at Saratoga, where he was second to Palace in the Chowder’s First. He wrapped up the season by finishing 11th in the BC Sprint and finishing fourth to Palace in the Fall Highweight.
Also retired was the 9-year-old gelding Rail Trip, who will head to Old Friends in Kentucky.
He won four graded stakes, including the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup in 2009.
Rail Trip, who earned over $1.5 million, rarely ventured outside California in 27 career starts, but made five straight starts in New York in 2011, finishing seventh in the Whitney won by Tizway.
Javier Castellano earned his first year-end riding title, and David Jacobson stood alone atop the trainer standings on the NYRA circuit in 2013.
Castellano, 36, won 239 races in 2013 at Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga, including Grade I scores aboard Princess of Sylmar in the Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama and Beldame Invitational for owner Ed Stanco, a Schenectady native.
In 2013, Castellano’s mounts earned $26.3 million, breaking the previous record of $25.6 million set in 2012 by Ramon Dominguez.
Jacobson’s 164 wins established a record for victories by a trainer in a single year, previously held by Gary Contessa, who won 159 races in 2007. Jacobson, 59, captured the Aqueduct spring, Belmont spring/summer and Aqueduct fall meet titles. In August, Jacobson won his first Grade I flat race when he sent out Strapping Groom to an upset victory in the Forego at Saratoga.
Pletcher was second behind Jacobson with 117 wins, followed by Brown (101).
Drawing Away Stable, Jacobson’s primary client, was the leading owner with 89 wins, well ahead of Michael Dubb (49) and Darley Stable (45).
AROUND THE TRACKS
Trainer Kathy Ritvo told the Daily Racing Form that Mucho Macho Man will start his 2014 campaign the same way he did in 2013, although hopefully not with the same result.
The Breeders’ Cup Classic winner is scheduled to run in next Saturday’s Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park.
Last year, he was pulled up in the stretch by Mike Smith and did not finish the Sunshine Million Classic. . . .
El Oh El, a 4-year-old Speightstown colt trained by Jacobson, made his fourth start in 20 days in the third race at Aqueduct on Friday, and won for the second time in that stretch. . . .
Trainer Leah Gyarmati said that Noble Moon, her Kentucky Derby hopeful who won the Grade II Jerome last Saturday, might skip the Grade III Withers on Feb. 1 at Aqueduct and wait for the Grade III Gotham on March 1.
Gyarmati and owner Jeff Treadway also campaign Street Gent, a 3-year-old who broke his maiden on Dec. 1 at Aqueduct and might start in the Withers.
“It’s a good sign that he can win and go two turns and fight them off, whether he’s on the lead or not,” Gyarmati said of Noble Moon. “As a rider, you can maneuver him, so that’s always handy. He’s going to have to step it up again, obviously, because there are some nice horses out there beyond Aqueduct.” . . .
NYRA has raised the purse of the Belmont Stakes from $1 million to $1.5 million.
The Kentucky Derby purse is $2 million, and the Maryland Jockey Club raised the Preakness purse from $1 million to $1.5 million for 2014.