Multiple graded stakes winner Battle of Hastings, who suffered a condylar fracture to his right front leg in the May 7 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs, came out of surgery well May 8, according to trainer Gregory Fox. The operation was conducted by Dr. Larry Bramlage.
“According to (equine surgeon) Dr. Bramlage, he could make a full recovery,” said Fox of Battle of Hastings, who took a bad step near the finish of the turf race on the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) undercard.
“Following the surgery, it’s truly a masterpiece,” added Fox. “The fracture line, you can’t even see it now. It’s a great testament to everyone’s professionalism from start to finish. He’s a great patient. I just left him and he’s walking around the stall as if nothing happened; it’s incredible.”
Fox said jockey Joel Rosario had pulled Battle of Hastings up immediately after he realized something was wrong during the race. “He was incredible in his ability to pull him up as well as he did,” said Fox, who also praised the quick and efficient response of the Churchill outriders, ambulance crew, and onsite veterinarians.
After Battle of Hastings was x-rayed to determine the nature of his injury and it was stabilized with a boot on his right front leg, he was vanned to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington the evening of May 7 and had surgery the following morning.
“The radiographs were e-mailed directly to Dr. Bramlage, and he was able to evaluate the injury,” said Fox. “He came back (to Rood and Riddle) late after the Derby just to check on him, and then the next morning at 8 a.m., he did the surgery.”
Owned by Mike House, Battle of Hastings has won or placed in 12 stakes throughout his four-year career. Fox said it’s possible the 5-year-old English-bred son of Royal Applause, who scored his biggest victories in the 2009 Colonial Turf Cup Stakes (gr. II) and Virginia Derby (gr. IIT), could return to racing, but no plans would be made until he reached a full recovery.
“He is a top-level racehorse, and there are a lot of ifs when you’re bringing a horse back,” said Fox. “We did bring (grade II winner) Tizdejavu back from a similar type of injury to run exceptionally well, but I’m not sure if that’s in the cards for Battle of Hastings. You just have to wait and hope there are no complications. Right now, there’s no discussion of him returning to racing, except Dr. Bramlage is very optimistic. As you know, Dr. Bramlage is a realist, so when he’s optimistic, it’s a great sign.
“Obviously, this is a huge disappointment…Battle of Hastings is one of the most sound horses I’ve ever been around, and one of the most genuine,” Fox continued. “Unfortunately, this year, he just had a series of bad luck races (the gelding failed to win in four starts in 2011). This has been a troubled year for him, but this was just out of the blue and an event I hope never have to be part of again.”
Fox said Battle of Hastings would initially recuperate at his Fox Stables near Lexington, after which he would be sent to House’s Chestnut Farm near Versailles, Ky. to be turned out.
In spite of Battle of Hasting’s injury, Fox said he’s thankful the situation wasn’t worse, and stressed again how overwhelmed he was by the professionalism in which it was handled.
“I even sent a message to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission giving them recognition,” he said. “They really stepped up. The role of the outriders, the ambulance crew, and the veterinarians, it’s all taken for granted…if something doesn’t go well, we all jump all over them, but they really did great, and we’re so grateful for them.”