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Bustin Stones, shown winning the Carter Handicap (gr. I)
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Bustin Stones To Skip Met Mile

Because of a fever, the undefeated sprinter will run this summer at Saratoga.

By Karen M. Johnson

Undefeated Bustin Stones, one of the leading sprinters in the country, will not run as planned in the Metropolitan Mile Handicap (gr. I) May 26 at Belmont Park, trainer Bruce Levine said May 11.

Bustin Stones, a son of City Zip who has a perfect record in six starts, missed about a week’s training recently because of a fever. Levine said Bustin Stones returned to training May 9.

Rather than the Met Mile, Levine had considered running Bustin Stones in the True North Handicap (gr. II) on the Belmont Stakes undercard June 7, but had a change of heart after speaking to the colt’s owner and breeder, Roddy Valente.

Instead, the 4-year-old will receive a freshening with an eye on the important sprint races at Saratoga, the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. II) and Forego Handicap (gr. I), and the Vosburgh (gr. I) at Belmont Park this fall. The ultimate goal for Bustin Stones is the TVG Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park Oct. 25.

“We need to give him a (freshening) somewhere,” Levine said. “So we are going to point to the Saratoga races, maybe run in one or both, the Vosburgh, and then the Breeders’ Cup. The Met was something I was shooting for, and it would have helped him value wise (as a stud), but the True North would not have really. Once I knew we were going to miss the Met, we thought time-wise, it would be a good idea to give him freshening. This is probably a once-in-a-lifetime horse.”

Bustin Stones was treated with antibiotics for his elevated temperature, and was scheduled to have a second blood work-up May 12. His last breeze was April 26.

“The first blood work wasn’t too bad,” Levine said. “The (fever) wasn’t anything drastic.”

Levine said Bustin Stones will remain with him at Belmont Park during his freshening and will be “lightly-trained.”

Bustin Stones won his last start in the Carter Handicap (gr. I) at Aqueduct April 5. Previous to the Carter, the New York-bred captured the General George Handicap (gr. II) at Laurel Park Feb. 18. In his run-up to the General George, Bustin Stones, who began his racing career last year by winning a state-bred maiden race at Aqueduct in March, won three restricted stakes in New York.