Late Hall of Fame trainer Charlie Whittingham once said “racehorses are like strawberries…..they go bad real fast”. No truer words have ever been spoken in the sport of Horse Racing as 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace has been immediately retired after injuring a tendon in her ankle.
Heat was present in the gorgeous bay mare’s right front ankle Sunday afternoon after a morning work out and when stable hands got to the barn this (Monday) morning, the heat was still there.
“It is with great disappointment that I have to announce that Havre de Grace has been retired,” said owner Rick Porter via his Fox Hill Farm website.
“Owning Grace through her racing career has been the highlight of my time in horse racing. She was a wonderful, wonderful racehorse, and I feel confident she’ll be an equally wonderful broodmare. Thanks, Grace, for all you gave us, and here’s to a long and enjoyable retirement.”
She was examined by noted veterinarian Dr. Larry Bramlage at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington and afterwards Porter said “We didn’t get a positive prognosis for continuing her racing career.”
“This is just one of many ligaments that support the fetlock by attaching to the base of the sesamoid,” Bramlage said. “Unfortunately, with one injured the remaining ligaments become progressively more vulnerable, and they would sequentially become injured if we trained on. These are slow healing and are prone to re-occur once injured the first time”.
“In a lesser horse we would rehabilitate, probably using stem cell therapy, but it takes a year to fully resolve, and it usually reduces a horse’s quality,” Bramlage added. “In her instance this is not acceptable, and so we should probably stop her race career. She needs 60 days of stall rest and hand walking before turning out. She needs no special therapy if we are not going to train again as the remaining ligaments are intact because this was identified so early in the course of the problem. She will be fine as a broodmare.”
Bramlage recommended “stall and hand walking” for the mare, and that “she could be bred at any time if you like. She can go outside in a stall-sized square pen if desired to help her settle into her new career. Normally we would just turn out at that time”
Havre de Grace, who retires a winner of nine of 16 races and with earnings of $2,586,175, was one of the better female racehorses this correspondent has seen in all his years watching racing.