A. Stevens Miles' Lead Story, a winner of three major stakes races at Churchill Downs and a leading contender for Saturday's $400,000-added Fleur de Lis (gr. II), has been retired from racing after suffering a fractured ankle in her final work for the race.
The Carl Nafzger-trained daughter of Editor's Note had breezed five furlongs on Saturday in 1:00 2/5 under jockey Calvin Borel and all appeared to be well after that move. But assistant trainer Ian Wilkes said the story changed quickly on Sunday morning when swelling was discovered in Lead Story's leg and X-rays revealed the nature of her problem: a fractured sesamoid in her left front ankle.
"She cooled out good yesterday, but when we came in this morning her ankle was big and she wasn't walking good on it and I knew it wasn't good then," said Wilkes. "She'll be retired. She won't need surgery and she'll be a broodmare."
Wilkes said Lead Story would get 60 days of stall rest so the fracture is allowed to mend naturally.
Lead Story was coming off an upset victory in the Louisville Breeders' Cup (gr. II) April 30 over a field that included the heavily favored Sightseek. It marked her third consecutive victory in a major stakes race at Churchill Downs. She had swept the Churchill Downs Distaff (gr. II) and Falls City Handicaps (gr. II) at the track last fall.
Wilkes said the timing of the injury is especially disappointing because Lead Story had been training brilliantly and was giving every indication that she was heading for a career-best effort.
"She went to a different level -- she was more like a grade I filly," said Wilkes. "The way she was doing, I didn't care who was coming for the race. It was like she'd moved ahead from her last race."
Lead Story ends her racing career with a record of 8-3-6 in 32 starts and earnings of $842,031. Her record at Churchill Downs was a flashy 5-1-1 in nine races with $628,067 collected at the Louisville track.
Despite the defection of Lead Story, a strong field is shaping up for the Fleur de Lis. The list of "likely" starters is headed by Amerman Racing Stables' Adoration, winner of the 2003 Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) and Santa Margarita Handicap (gr. I). Others considered likely for the race are Roar Emotion, Bare Necessities, Cat Fighter, Yell, Angela's Love, Indy Groove and La Reason.