Harold Lerner’s Eightyfiveinafifty should be able to return to training in a week after receiving 14 stitches to repair a cut suffered during his premature departure from the racetrack during the running of the Feb. 6 Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct.
“We have absolutely dodged a bullet here,” said trainer Gary Contessa the following day. “This could have been the end of his career and instead this horse is out a week…He has always been a very level-headed horse so there is no reason to think he will not forget this incident and return to being the fastest 3-year-old in the country.”
Jorge Chavez, who was unseated during the incident, also escaped injury and is expected to return to riding Feb. 10, according to his agent.
Eightyfiveinafifty, the 2-5 favorite in the Whirlaway off his impressive 17 1/4-length maiden victory at Aqueduct in January, went extremely wide on the first turn of the 1 1/16-mile race and unseated Chavez when he crashed through the outer railing, jumping another fence before taking off through the stable area.
Eightyfiveinafifty (Forest Camp-Lifeinthefastlane, by Unbridled's Song) was nabbed inside Gate 6 by a security guard, suffering a two-inch cut on his right hind leg. Contessa said that when he was caught, Eightyfiveinafifty’s bit was broken in two and the bridle was off his head, but added he did not know if the equipment malfunction occurred before the colt bolted or as he was wandering through the barn area.
Eightyfiveinafifty, who in his maiden win earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure–the highest of any 3-year-old this year–was sound and full of energy the following morning, said Contessa. The trainer, who planned to use the Whirlaway as a steppingstone towards the traditional New York preps for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), the Gotham Stakes (gr. III) March 6 and the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) April 3, did not speculate on when the colt would next run.
“Yesterday was just another example of how difficult it is to have everything go right in this game,” Contessa said. “Let’s let the horse do the talking, and he will tell me when and where he returns to race again.”
An RNA from the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale in 2007, Eightyinafifty was purchased by Contessa, as agent, for $100,000 from the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s March sale of 2-year-olds from the Sequel Bloodstock consignment.