The Tin Man, a 9-year-old multi-millionaire who has experienced continued stakes success on the racetrack, suffered a fractured knee while coming out of anesthesia following an Oct. 25 surgical procedure.
Trainer Richard Mandella, who was planning to race The Tin Man as a 10-year-old, has now been forced to retire the Affirmed gelding, who was campaigned as a homebred by Aury and Ralph Todd.
Mandella explained that each year, he turns The Tin Man out for a couple months, before which he does a routine bone scan and takes X-rays to make sure the horse is sound.
"(This time), he lit up in his left leg a little bit in the nuclear bone scan," said Mandella. "So we X-rayed it and it had just a little bit of roughening around a typical ankle chip area."
Mandella said while there were no signs of a fracture, he feared there could be cartilage damage, so he scheduled a surgery to further examine The Tin Man.
"There wasn't much in there—it was even cleaner than we thought it would be," said Mandella. "But he had a very difficult time coming out of the surgery and broke his knee pretty seriously. Believe me, we wish we had just never done anything."
The Tin Man is currently stabled at Santa Anita Park near Mandella's office, where he is wearing a support bandage on his knee.
"He's doing very well," said Mandella. "He's not in much pain."
The trainer said The Tin Man's veterinarian Jeff Blea has been asking other experts for ideas on how to best operate on the knee.
"As we understand, it's a very difficult place to operate to put a screw," said Mandella. "The difficulty of him even going down (under anesthesia) and trying to get him up again with losing support in that knee is dangerous. We're looking into all the things, but right now we're just keeping him restricted that he can't move around too much. I'm afraid that a bad move could put him in very big jeopardy. It's a very touchy situation—we're all holding our breath."
Mandella added that The Tin Man's injuries could be life threatening if he experiences any further complications.
"(The Tin Man) is like a very important part of the family—he's been with us for seven years and we love him dearly," said Mandella.
The Tin Man finished his career with a record of 13-8-2 from 31 starts and earnings of more than $3.6 million. The gelding, who scored stakes victories at 4, 5, 8, and 9, most recently captured this year's Shoemaker Mile (gr. I) at Hollywood Park.