Top sprinter and world-traveling stakes winner Big Jag was euthanized Sept. 24 after a training injury last March developed into a severe case of laminitis.
The 8-year-old gelding fractured the sesamoids in his left front leg while training for the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I), which he won in 2000 when the race had a $1 million purse.
Big Jag remained in Dubai to recover and during the spring and summer was making enough progress that trainer Tim Pinfield and owner/breeder Julius Zolezzi made plans to ship him back to California.
Last week, however, Big Jag's condition deteriorated. He had no appetite and could stand for only brief periods of time.
"In the last couple of days, he was suffering," Pinfield told the Daily Racing Form.
"It was like he lost his will. It was sad for such a big, masculine horse."
Pinfield and Zolezzi had reason to believe Big Jag would overcome his injury. He'd done it before as a 4-year-old when he recovered from fractured knees and became of 1999's top sprinters. That year Big Jag beat Kona Gold in the San Carlos Handicap (gr. II) and the Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II). He finished second to Kona Gold in the El Conejo Handicap (gr. III). Big Jag closed out the season with a third in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) behind Artax and Kona Gold.
Artax would be named champion sprinter in 1999 and Kona Gold would receive the same honors the next year.
The 2000 Golden Shaheen was the highlight of Big Jag's career. He won by four lengths and in a track record 1:08.10, more than a second faster than any other horse had covered the distance at the Nad al Sheba racetrack. Jockey Alex Solis said Big Jag was "like a freight train" at the sixteenth pole.
"When he injured his knee, they though he'd never have a shot at a career and he went right through it," Pinfield told the Racing Form
. "Close to $2 million later, he proved he was a great horse."