B. Wayne Hughes' Slammed, who had turned in one of the best performances by a 2-year-old at the Churchill Downs spring meet, was found dead early Saturday after a freak accident.
According to a statement from the track, the Al Stall, Jr.-trained son of Grand Slam was found by a night watchman. The colt appeared to have a broken neck, apparently sustained when he broke through the webing of his stall and hit the barn wall head-first.
Produced from the Roberto mare Silken Ripples, Slammed was bought by Hughes for $250,000 at last year's Keeneland July Sale.
In his racing debut at Churchill one week ago, the colt circled the field in his debut to win by 5 1/2 lengths under jockey Larry Melancon, who had delayed his departure for his daughter's wedding so he could ride the colt. The colt's time of 1:03.3 for 5 1/2 furlongs so impressed Stall that he planned to run the colt next in the Sanford Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga.
"I got a call in the middle of the night from my night watchman, who said he heard a big thud and he went around the corner and there he (Slammed) was, laid out there in the shedrow," said Stall. "I think with this drop in humidity, he might have just been so fresh and feeling good that he literally broke out of the webbing and went straight into the wall, head-on."
Stall said Slammed would be sent to the University of Kentucky to be examined, although he said it appears obvious that it was the impact with the wall that took the colt's life.
"He came not over, but through the webbing -- like breaking out of the gate -- and straight into the wall,"said Stall.
Stall said Hughes was at Churchill Downs to watch Slammed's debut victory and was excited about the colt's potential.
"He was charged up and it was just great -- life was good," Stall said of the owner. "But he'll take it -- you don't have to worry about that. He'll feel much worse for me than for anybody else, that's the type of guy he is. I guarantee you that."