The racing career of Phoebe Mueller's graded stakes winner Rush Bay ended Saturday when he apparently took a bad step on the Churchill Downs turf course as he was closing in on an apparent victory in his season debut.
Trainer Tom Amoss said on Sunday that the 5-year-old son of Cozzene tore the suspensory ligament in his left front leg in his runner-up finish in the 6th race, a one-mile optional claiming allowance race on turf. He said the injury ended the racing career of Rush Bay, and the effort to find a home for the colt for his next career as a stallion is underway.
Rush Bay had pushed past the pacesetting Junior College mid-stretch when the 5-year suddenly faltered under jockey Rafael Bejarano. Junior College battled back to win by a nose under Jesus Castanon. Amoss said he knew something was amiss when Rush Bay surrendered his lead near the wire, and feared the worst when his veteran fell on the first turn as he galloped out after the race. An ambulance took Rush Bay from the track.
"I think it actually happened very near the wire," Amoss said. "I watched him gallop out and he was smooth as silk, then all the sudden he just got very abrupt. I thought he had broken his leg when he fell, and I thought 'Oh my God.' So we felt very, very fortunate that it wasn't that."
The race was the first for Rush Bay since he turned in one of the better efforts of his career in a fourth-place finish to Red Rocks in the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. I) on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.
He completed his racing career with a record of 6-5-1 in 18 races, but he was clearly at his best when he raced at Churchill. He ran eight times on turf or dirt at the Louisville track and compiled a record of 4-3-0 in those races. He earned $742,847 in his career, but banked $505,983 of that total at Churchill Downs. Rush Bay's efforts at his home track included victories in the Jefferson Cup (gr. IIT) and Opening Verse over the Matt Winn Turf Course.
"His career is over, but he's going to be starting a new career -- he's going to be a daddy," Amoss said. "We're going to miss him, the whole barn is. It was a little slow around here this morning, but he's been great to us. We're just happy that he's healthy enough to be a stallion."