Caracortado won the 2012 Daytona Stakes.

Caracortado won the 2012 Daytona Stakes.

Benoit Photography

Caracortado Has Traveled Difficult Path

Trainer Mike Machowsky has gelding ready for Breeders' Cup.

Caracortado loves Skittles, has a Twitter account, and may ultimately be responsible for trainer and co-owner Mike Machowsky having to buy his kids a Pac-Man machine. But even more amazing will be his appearance in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IT) because the gelding has certainly traveled a difficult path.

First he earned his name, which is Spanish for "scarface," because as a foal he cut his face and required 30 stitches. Then he missed about 20 months, from January 2012 to this past September, because he shed the frog on his right front hoof.

"He came back off the track one daythe ground was a little wet," said Machowsky. "He was on the wash rack, and when he walked off, I could see a little blood underneath his hoof. It wasn't like he grabbed a quarter. It was in the cleft of the frog."

Machowsky and his veterinarian, Dr. Ted Simpson, began treating the foot, but after about four weeks, the gelding lost the entire frog. Machowsky's blacksmith, Mike Linn, constructed a special shoe and plate for the foot.

"We ended up putting a full shoe on him," said Machowsky, "and then two holes in each side of the hoof so we could screw in the plate. That way we could pack it with medication and keep straw from getting in the foot."

Machowsky sent Caracortado on about 20 trips to nearby Bradbury, Calif., where fellow trainer Vladimir Cerin has a hyperbaric chamber.

"I did that to keep any infection from getting in there and to stimulate some growth," Machowsky said. "The horse is smart. On days he wasn't comfortable, he'd lay down most of the day. But amazingly he was never that lame on the foot."

As the frog began growing out, Machowsky spent several months jogging Caracortado. The gelding finally returned to the races in the Sept. 27 Eddie D. Stakes (gr. IIIT) and finished a solid fourth.

Machowsky trains Caracortado, owns him in partnership with Blahut Racing, Donkey Island Racing, and Kagele Brothers Inc., and even bred the horse. He had trained the dam, the Maria's Mon mare Mons Venus, but she never reached the races. Caracortado is a California-bred son of the Storm Cat stallion Cat Dreams.

Now 6, the gelding is a bit of a pet around the Machowsky barn. The barn help discovered that he loves Skittles candy. That has prompted such tweets from his Twitter account (@The Caracortado) as "I'll Instagram for Skittles" and "Is it begging if you're cute?"

Now that Caracortado is headed for the Turf Sprint, the biggest question in the Machowsky household is whether he can earn the kids a Pacman machine.

About six months before the Eddie D., Machowsky had to deal with an issue regarding Caracortado's foot when his two younger children, Cameron and Alyssa, wanted him to spend time with them. He had to promise them that the next time Caracortado won, he would buy them a Pac-Man machine.

"When he ran in the Eddie D., it was a Friday," said Machowsky. "They were in school, and I got home and they said, 'Did he win? Do we have a Pac-Man machine?' I told them he had run fourth. They wanted to know if that still counted because he made some money."

Machowsky held firm and didn't get them the Pac-Man game. Cameron and Alyssa thus have even more reason to root home their father's horse in the Turf Sprint.