An ankle injury to Intense Holiday made for a disappointing holiday weekend for Starlight Racing on Sunday.
The Grade II Risen Star winner, considered a strong prospect to stop California Chrome’s bid for the Triple Crown, suffered a condylar fracture of his right foreleg during a five-furlong breeze at Belmont Park.
He was sent to New Jersey, where he will undergo surgery by Dr. Patty Hogan to insert screws in his ankle at 8 this morning. Intense Holiday likely will be out for the rest of the year for Starlight, whose managing partners are Don Lucarelli of Duanesburg and Jack Wolf.
“He’s a very, very good horse, and there was no sign of any problem,” Lucarelli said. “We just went through everything after the Derby, paid for bone scans and everything.”
“It’s not life-threatening, and I don’t think it’s career-ending,” trainer Todd Pletcher told the New York Racing Association. “It’s particularly frustrating because, after the Derby, we ran [all the tests] and everything indicated he was healthy and ready to move forward. It’s unfortunate.”
Intense Holiday, purchased for $380,000 at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale, was runner-up in the Grade II Louisiana Derby before finishing 12th to California Chrome in the Kentucky Derby.
Starlight has some experience with condylar fractures, after the Grade I Ballerina-winning filly Hilda’s Passion suffered one to the same leg. It’s possible that Intense Holiday will be retired because of his value as a stallion and the time that it will take for him to recover.
The hope is that Hogan will find that the condylar fracture is non-displaced, but even then, it would be at least 60 days before he could get back to light training.
Intense Holiday was injured while breezing in company with stablemate Commissioner, another Belmont Stakes contender for Pletcher.
It wasn’t all bad news for Starlight.
Lucarelli wasn’t at Belmont for Intense Holiday’s ill-fated workout, but was there for the first race, when the stable’s promising 3-year-old Tiz Dark won by 63⁄4 lengths to break his maiden in his second start.
A $200,000 purchase at the same sale that produced Intense Holiday, Tiz Dark was 2-5 on the morning line, and went off at 1-9.
“He won like a 1-9 shot is supposed to,” Lucarelli said. “Who knows, maybe his next start will be a stakes. There’s been a lot of buzz on the backstretch about him. Maybe he’ll be the guy that we can replace [Intense Holiday] with.”
Many of the Belmont Stakes horses worked on Sunday.
With exercise rider Willie Delgado in the irons, the Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome had another two-mile gallop over the track and is scheduled to breeze on Saturday.
“He just keeps getting stronger,” assistant trainer Alan Sherman said. “I can see it in his stride and the way he’s taking hold of Willie, he seems to like this track. He’s actually put on some weight since the Preakness.”