What a Song, the $1.9-million Barretts March sale topper who won Sunday's Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) at Del Mar for owners Bob and Beverly Lewis, was euthanized Friday after suffering a fractured sesamoid in his right front leg during a routine gallop a few hours earlier.
The 2-year-old Songandaprayer
colt was returning to the track for the first time since his 2 3/4-length victory over Bashert in the Best Pal when the injury occurred. According to trainer Bob Baffert, What a Song jogged a mile in tandem with a stable pony around 6:45 a.m., then broke off on what was to be an easy one-mile gallop. "When he got to the top of the stretch, he switched leads, and it just buckled and went 'boom,' " Baffert said.
A splint was applied to the injured area and What a Song was vanned back to Baffert's barn for X-rays. Three veterinarians examined the colt, and a decision was made to euthanize him.
"There was nothing they could do with this type of injury," Baffert said. "It's the kind that won't heal, and they usually founder and suffer."
The sesamoids are two small bones located above and at the back of the fetlock, the joint located between the cannon bone and long pastern bone in the ankle. The severity of damage to the soft tissue and blood supply to the area usually determine a horse's chances of survival.
"For some reason, this is the worst one I've ever felt," Baffert said. "You lose horses. That's the worst part about this business, but this one is devastating.
"I let myself get attached to him," he continued. "He reminded me so much of Silver Charm, the way he acted, and the way he fought back when he won that stakes at Hollywood Park. He showed the same grit. You search and search for a horse like this one. He didn't have any flaws. And then, just like that, he's gone.
"I still can't believe this happened. He was just going real slow around there. Nice and easy. No sign that anything was wrong and then, just like that, it's over. It just makes me sick."
Baffert said the telephone call to Bob Lewis was one of the toughest he's ever had to make.
What a Song, produced from the Tough Knight mare What a Knight, was bred in Florida by Susan Kahn. Pinhooker Murray Smith bought What a Song for $95,000 at the 2004 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July select yearling auction, then consigned him to the Barretts March sale, where Bob Lewis outbid fellow California Sid Craig. He is from the first crop of Songandaprayer, an Unbridled's Song
stallion who is being moved from Hartley/deRenzo, Walmac South, to Walmac Farm in Kentucky for the 2006 breeding season.
What a Song was unbeaten in three starts, winning a June 18 maiden race by 3 1/4, followed by a neck victory in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III) July 16. His Best Pal triumph made him one of the leading candidates for the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).