Brilliant Ties Up, Out of Commonwealth Turf

(from Churchill Downs notes)
Mill House's Brilliant, the morning line favorite for Saturday's $150,000-added Commonwealth Turf at Churchill Downs, was scratched from the race by trainer Neil Howard on Saturday morning after the colt tied up following a trip to the track on Friday.

Brilliant had been installed as the 2-1 morning line choice under jockey Robby Albarado in a field of 11 3-year-olds entered in the 1 1/16-mile turf test.

Horses that "tie-up" develop tension in their muscles following exercise. Those muscles can contract and large muscle groups tend to seize up. In mild cases, horses that tie up can be sore and stiff. In more serious cases, they are stiff and reluctant to move.

The decision was made to scratch the 3-year-old son of 2000 Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) winner War Chant after a subsequent trip to the track on Saturday morning. Howard, speaking by telephone from Woodbine Race Course in Toronto, said the initial concern arose following a gallop over the main track on Friday. He said it was a mild episode, but reason for concern.

"For some unknown reason, this colt got a little tight for a few minutes – basically, he tied up a little bit," Howard said. "He galloped. We stood him in the gate, just as a matter of policy. There was not any rhyme or reason for him to do it."

Howard, who is at Woodbine to saddle William S. Farish's Soul Search in Saturday's $175,000 Maple Leaf Stakes, said Brilliant possesses a near-perfect demeanor – which made Friday's episode all the more puzzling.

"You could have knocked me over with a wiffle ball bat," said Howard. "I couldn't believe it.

"I hated to scratch him, but he's a nice horse and the result you're going to get most of the time when you run a horse after they tie up is that they're not going to get enough oxygen to the muscles. They almost run like they've bled."

Brilliant completed his 3-year-old season with a record of 5-2-0 in nine races, which includes a perfect three-for-three slate over the Churchill Downs grass. Along with a stakes victory in the Kent Breeders' Cup (gr. IIIT) at Delaware Park, Brilliant won the Jefferson Cup (GIIT) at Churchill Downs. His career record stands at 5-3-1 in 11 races with earnings of $557,528.