Owner Paul Saylor leads Fleet Indian to the winner's circle after her early October victory in the Beldame Stakes.

Owner Paul Saylor leads Fleet Indian to the winner's circle after her early October victory in the Beldame Stakes.

Skip Dickstein

Churchill Says Ambulance Personnel Were Following Regulations

By Deirdre Biles and
Ron Mitchell

An equine ambulance was delayed in getting to Fleet Indian after the mare injured her left front suspensory ligament during the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) because Churchill Downs personnel were following state regulations regarding ambulances on the track.

John Asher, vice president of communications for Churchill, said a state veterinarian on duty during the Breeders' Cup World Championships Saturday told track workers that the ambulance could not go onto the track until after an ambulance attending to Pine Island, who also broke down during the race, had left.

Asher said it was not clear which state vet made the decision, nor the reason for the regulation precluding two equine ambulances from being on the track at the same time.

Paul Saylor, who owns Fleet Indian, said Nov. 5 he was upset about how long it took for an equine ambulance to reach Fleet Indian.

Saylor said he understood why Pine Island, who had to be euthanized, was the first priority and was removed from the track before Fleet Indian. But he thought another vehicle should have been readily available to help his mare.

"We waited around and waited around, and it was an elapsed time of damn near 20 minutes before the ambulance showed up," said Saylor, who was interviewed at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November select mixed sale. "They had to bring it over from the Sports Spectrum (now known as Trackside Louisville). I tell you what, I don't know if it's the Breeders' Cup or Churchill (that is responsible), but I'm going to find out and I'm going right after somebody's throat because if she had had a fracture, we would have lost her. Everybody was screaming about the track bias, which should not have happened either. If you weren't on the rail, you weren't going to win. But that (the time it took to get an equine ambulance to Fleet Indian) was friggin' unbelievable."

Asher said Saylor's statement that the ambulance used to transport Fleet Indian off the track had to be brought over from the Trackside training center was incorrect. Asher said Churchill had two equine ambulances at the track during the races, as required by state regulations.

Saylor said Nov. 5 that Fleet Indian was doing "better than expected" and he is grateful the mare wasn't injured more severely. Trained by Todd Pletcher, she took an eight-race win streak into the Distaff that included victories in two grade I events.

"When we found out about 10 minutes after we got her back to the barn that it was all soft tissue, no fractures, I felt like I had won the race," he said. "We checked on her that night (after the Breeders' Cup), and she had her head in her feed bucket. We went back this morning and Todd said that Ken Reed, the veterinarian, said she was doing better than expected. We're going to take more pictures (X-rays) Tuesday."

Fleet Indian was scheduled to be offered Nov. 6 at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale, but was withdrawn after sustaining her injury.