A pall was cast on the 18th Breeders' Cup before it could even start when Exogenous flipped, got her foot caught in the winner's circle rail, and eventually had to be sedated and removed from the tunnel leading to the racetrack.
A horrified crowd watched Exogenous struggle on her side but the good news was despite the accident, the crowd was told later the filly was in her stall, on her feet and announced Tom Durkin said, "Her prognosis is good."
It was unsure what spooked the winner of the Beldame and Gazelle (gr. I) Handicaps--the ponies, the matrix board, band music, or something else entirely.
The field for the first Breeders' Cup race, the $2 million Distaff (gr. I) was moving through the tunnel toward the racetrack when the accident occurred. The first two fillies, Tranquility Lake and Flute, were on the track and Exogenous we just taking her first steps on the track. Something spooked her and she flipped over backward, hitting her head. Jockey Javier Castellano was thrown and Exogenous rolled over and her foot got caught in the railing lining the tunnel.
Doctors and emergency workers worked furiously to free her, but Exogenous was obviously both hurt and scared. Once free, she would not stand up. Veterinarians had to sedate Exogenous, gave her steroids for the inflammation, and she was moved in to the horse ambulance.
"She just flipped back," Castellano said. "I tried to comfort her. It was unbelievable (watching her)."
"I think she caught sight of the Matrix board," Richard Migliore, who was on Miss Linda behind her said.
"She had neurological damage," Dr. Wayne McIlwraith said. "She was sedated, given steroids, and will be checked at the equine hospital. It is too early to say if she will survive or not.
As the curtains were raised to shield the fans from the veterinarians work, Randy Schulhofer, assistant to his father, trainer Scotty Schulhofer, openly wept nearby.
Tranquility Lake and Flute stayed on the track. The others in the field returned to the paddock and the riders dismounted.
Once the race was run, only five minutes late, longshot Unbridled Elaine came flying on the outside to get up and beat last year's Distaff winner, Spain.
Spain appeared home free after easing to the lead down the lane, but Pat Day had finally got Unbridled Elaine clear and in full gear and she went by to win the race in the last stride. Unbridled Elaine was inside and trapped most of the race. Day had to wait for a lane to open and then was all out to get up in the last few yards.
"Our filly run an awesome race," Day said. "She broke well, and was comfortably placed. I had to alter course severely between the 3/16s and the eighth pole, but I finally got her outside and in the clear. I put her to the task and she responded beautifully. She got down on her belly and really went after the leader with a vengeance and got up in the final stride. It was great effort."
Two Item Limit ran third and Atelier was fourth.
Flute was in a good spot on the backside but had nothing left in the stretch drive, extending Bobby Frankel's winless Breeders' Cup streak to 37. She finished seventh.
The time of the race was 1:49.21. The winner paid $26.60, $11 and $8.40 while Spain returned $6.40 and $4.80. Two Item Limit paid $6.20. The exacta was $133.50 and the trifecta $2,551.
Unbridled Elaine was just sent from trainer David Vance's barn to Dallas Stewart, who was her original conditioner. Owner Roger Devenport was not happy with Vance's decision to not ship Unbridled Elaine to Belmont earlier.
The margin was a head, another 1 1/4 lengths to Two Item Limit, who beat Atelier a nose.
Unbridled Elaine was bred in Kentucky by Golden Orb Frm and K. David Schwartz.Distaff Chart, From EquibaseDistaff notes from the Breeders' Cup site