Grade II winner Papa Clem has been retired from racing due to an ankle injury and will stand at stud in 2010, according to owner/breeder Bo Hirsch and trainer Gary Stute.
The son of Smart Strike most recently won the Jan. 16 San Fernando Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park in his 4-year-old debut.
Stute said the injury was due to the “erosion of the left front sesamoid. The vet said that turning him out wouldn’t help (the injury), so we decided to retire him.”
Stute noted that following the San Fernando, Papa Clem’s ankle looked slightly swollen, so he decided to have x-rays taken, after which he discovered the injury.
“I’ve experienced many disappointments, but this hurt a lot,” said Stute. "I thought he would win the Strub Stakes (gr. II) and have a good chance in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I).”
Hirsch said he has been talking with his bloodstock agent Kathy Berkey about possible options of where to stand Papa Clem this year.
“We’re open to anybody…we’re just trying to find out what’s best for Papa Clem,” said Hirsch. “(The injury) is disappointing, because he was doing so well; he was back to his old self. I was hoping he would make it through a 4-year-old campaign, but that’s the business—you have to take the highs with the lows.”
Papa Clem, who finished fourth in the 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), but had been winless in six starts leading up to the San Fernando, put himself back on the radar when he captured the latter race by a half-length.
The bay colt won the 2009 Arkansas Derby (gr. II) and placed in four other stakes that year, including the Dec. 26 Malibu (gr. I). He retires from racing with a lifetime record of 3-2-2 from 13 starts, for earnings of $1,121,190.
Hirsch named Papa Clem after his late father Clement L. Hirsch. A successful owner and breeder in California for about 40 years, the elder Hirsch was instrumental in the establishment of the Oak Tree Racing Association.
Clement Hirsch bought Papa Clem’s second dam, Magical Maiden, for $26,000 at the 1991 California March 2-year-old sale, and the daughter of Lord Avie wound up winning or placing in 17 stakes during her 26-start career. Among her victories were the 1991 Hollywood Starlet Stakes and 1992 Las Virgenes Stakes (both gr. I).
As a broodmare, Magical Maiden produced Miss Houdini, a grade I-winning daughter of Belong to Me who later became the dam of Papa Clem.
While racing for Hirsch, a native of Pacific Palisades, Calif., Miss Houdini captured the 2002 Del Mar Debutante Stakes (gr. I) during her short, four-start career. Hirsch had bought Miss Houdini, along with a few other mares from his father’s estate when he died in 2000.
In keeping with the all-in-the-family connections, Figonero, Magical Maiden, and Miss Houdini were all trained by Warren Stute, the late uncle of Gary Stute.
“Breeding-wise, (Papa Clem) is very special,” said Hirsch. “He has a lot of potential to offer (as a stallion).”