Castledale, a grade I winner on both dirt and grass, has been retired due to deterioration of his front ankles, his owners said Friday.
The 4-year-old Irish-bred son of Peintre Celebre had been preparing for a probable start in the Atto Mile (Can-I) at Woodbine Sept. 18. Greg Knee, the majority owner of Castledale in a partnership with TVG personality Frank Lyons, said that progressive ankle problems were revealed in a nuclear scan taken recently. Trainer Jeff Mullins suspected that the colt was injured in his last start, a fourth-place finish in the Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) at Del Mar, Knee said.
"He hurt his ankles pretty bad (in the race)," Knee said. He noted that Castledale has had problems with his ankles and shins ever since he arrived in the United States from Ireland, where he ran for the first seven races of his career.
The undersized Castledale shocked the 2004 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) in a gritty late-running performance to win by a head over Rock Hard Ten and Imperialism at odds of 30-1. He finished 14th in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) contested in sloppy going one month later.
His next victory came nearly a year later on the turf in the San Francisco Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) at Bay Meadows April 23. Five weeks after that, he defeated a strong field in the Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) on the Hollywood Park turf in a time of 1:33. That was his last start before the 1 1/8-mile Eddie Read on July 24, where he finished four lengths behind Sweet Return as the 3-2 favorite.
Castledale retires with a 5-5-1 record in 17 starts and earnings of $864,423. He won four of his 10 tries in the U.S. All his American victories were in graded stakes races, including the Generous (gr. IIIT) on the grass at Hollywood Park, which came at the end of his 2-year-old season in his U.S. debut. Castledale won graded stakes at ages 2, 3 and 4.
Knee said Castledale hadn't trained very well after the Read. "His head was down. He wasn't happy. We hot-walked him for ages after the race. When we finally felt he could gallop, some days he'd gallop okay but other times he wouldn't."
Castledale had also developed a rear hock problem, Knee said.
Lyons, who negotiated the private purchase of Castledale in Ireland for less than $200,000, said the injuries "were nothing serious, just some wear and tear." He added, "We could have given him six months off and brought him back, but after what he's done, we didn't want to take the chance with him. We wanted to retire him in soundness.
"In our case with this little horse, it's time to say good-bye."
Knee said the plan was to supplement Castledale at a cost of $150,000 to the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) after the Atto Mile. Instead, the bay colt will be sent to Tommy Town Thoroughbreds in SantaYnez, Calif., to recuperate while Lyons works out a stallion offer. Knee said they planned to retain a portion of breeding rights and he hoped that Castledale would stand in Kentucky.
"I'm really sad to have to retire him," Knee said. "But if Jeff Mullins says it's time, I think that's that. We're part of a team. I've been in horseracing for less than six years and this horse changed my life. I owe him. He doesn't owe me."
Gigginstown House Stud was the breeder of Castledale, who is from the Silver Hawk mare Louju.