By Ron Mitchell and
Smarty Jones, the Elusive Quality colt whose quest for the Triple Crown came up short in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), has been retired due to bone bruises in all four cannon bones caused by his rigorous campaign at ages two and three.As previously reported, the colt who won the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) will enter stud at Three Chimneys, near Midway, Ky.The retirement announcement from owners Roy and Pat Chapman issued through Three Chimneys said Smarty Jones has been found to have "chronic bruising of the bottom of the cannon bone in all four fetlock joints," leading to the decision to retire the colt.
"This is a fairly common injury in horses, caused by the wear and tear of racing," said trainer John Servis in the release. "He would need three months rest before he should resume training. This would knock him out for the rest of the year."Servis said it is unfortunate that Smarty Jones will not be to display his full potential by having his career cut short."It hurts me because he might have been the best of all time and unfortunately he isn't going to be able to show that," Servis said. "I am sure there are going to be some skeptics out there. I know he was a great horse and I just hope he carries it over to the breeding shed.""He'd start back in training about the time of the Breeders' Cup," said Roy Chapman of the timing for a comeback if Smarty had stayed in training. "If everything went right, he might make the Dubai World Cup, but he might not. That's just too many 'if's' for a horse of this caliber, who has done so much and who has given us so much. We are heartsick over this. We are deeply disappointed for his fans, but we owe it to Smarty Jones to do what is in his best interest.""After all he's done, I couldn't live with myself if I thought we were putting him in harm's way," said Pat Chapman. "He doesn't owe us anything, and we owe him a lot. " Servis said the condition was detected when Smarty Jones underwent a nuclear scan Thursday to determine if his feet were ready for him to proceed with training. After being informed of the condition on Friday, the Chapmans consulted with several veterinarians over the weekend "to make sure we're making the right decision," said Roy Chapman. "We consulted with John Servis, our primary veterinarians and veterinarians in Kentucky. We talked it over with Robert Clay and Three Chimneys supports our decision wholeheartedly. Everyone agrees that the number one consideration is the horse." Dr. Larry Bramlage, who was consulted on the condition, said the bone bruises are a result of the rigors of racing and are fairly common."He had nine superb performances in eight months. It is this type of accumulated inflammation that causes all athletes to cycle in and out of peak form," Bramlage said. "He has had a season's worth of work. It spans the end of his 2-year-old year and the spring of his 3-year-old year. We bring horses back from this injury all the time. The risks are minor. We bring horses back from this injury all the time. There are no structural problems and the prognosis is for a full recovery."Bramlage said the bruises are on the fetlock joint, which is commonly referred to as the horse's ankle and is about four inches high from the ground. He said the best treatment for the condition is not to have the horse in a stall at a racetrack but to have the animal at a location where he can be exercised in a field."If you sprain your ankle, the best way to get it to heal is to exercise it and get the blood flowing," Bramlage said, comparing Smarty's fetlock to a human ankle. "That's what he needs.""If it were any other horse, you'd turn him out and bring him back to the track in late October and start building back up his conditioning," said trainer Servis. "But this is Smarty Jones. I don't see anyway he can earn on the racetrack in a year what he can earn next spring in the breeding shed. And then you have the emotional trauma if anything should happen to him. I can't blame the Chapmans for retiring him.Three Chimneys owner Robert Clay said the stud fee has not been set for Smarty Jones. "We just found this out and so we have not decided upon a stud fee, but we will do so shortly -- probably in the next two or three weeks," said Clay. "Smarty Jones will arrive at Three Chimneys in a few weeks, we will give him some time to settle in, and will advise the public when he's ready for visitors," said Clay.Servis said Philadelphia Park and Monmouth Park had already contacted him about Smarty Jones making appearances at those tracks before going to Three Chimneys.Smarty Jones won eight of his nine career starts and earned $7,613,155, making him the fourth-richest earner in North American racing history. The 3-year-old son of Elusive Quality out of the stakes-winning Smile mare I'll Get Along was bred in Pennsylvania by the Chapman's Someday Farm.At Three Chimneys, Smarty Jones will occupy the former stall of Seattle Slew, the only undefeated Triple Crown winner in history. Other classic winners at Three Chimneys are Silver Charm, the fifth-leading North American runner and a near-Triple Crown winner, and Point Given , 2001 Horse of the Year and also winner of two-thirds of racing's Triple Crown. "I think 10 years from now we'll be saying that Smarty Jones was a great one on the track and a great one in the breeding shed," said Three Chimneys president Dan Rosenberg. "He's by a world-record-setting miler by Gone West and he is directly descended from La Troienne. He became America's Horse with his speed, charisma and way of overcoming the odds. Now it's Three Chimneys' turn to give Smarty Jones every chance to show what he can do," said Rosenberg.On July 27, Servis announced that Smarty's training had been slowed by a bruised hoof, canceling plans for the colt to run in the Sept. 6 Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II). That race was highly anticipated because it would have marked a return of Smarty to his home track of Philadelphia Park.Servis' revised schedule for Smarty then included a prep race before concluding his season against older horses in the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I).Last year, Smarty Jones won his first two starts at Philadelphia Park, taking a six-furlong maiden special weight race by 7 3/4 lengths, then winning the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes for state-breds by 15 lengths on Nov. 22. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 105 in the seven-furlong race.His 2003 campaign began in the Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct on Jan. 3, where he won the 1 1/16-mile race on the inner track by five lengths. Servis elected to take the colt to Oaklawn Park in Arkansas to prepare for a run at the Triple Crown. On Feb. 28, he won the one-mile Southwest Stakes by three-quarters of a length and followed that with a 3 1/4-length score in the 1 1/16-miles Rebel Stakes. On April 10, breaking from the outside post 11 over a muddy track, Smarty Jones won the 1 1/8-miles Arkansas Derby (gr. II) by 1 1/2 lengths. Shipped to Kentucky for the Derby, Smarty Jones was initially stabled at Keeneland before vanning to Churchill Downs the week before the race. He signaled his readiness with a five-furlong workout in a blazing :58 on April 24, then went on to win the Derby on May 1 by 2 3/4 lengths over Lion Heart. Going off as the 4-1 favorite, Smarty Jones was just the second favorite since 1979 to win the Derby, joining Fusaichi Pegasus (2000). In winning the Run for the Roses, Smarty Jones won the $5-million "Centennial" bonus from Oaklawn for sweeping the Rebel, Arkansas, and Kentucky Derby. The victory instantly made him the sixth-leading North American earner of all time and a darling with not only racing fans, but with the general public as well.Shipped to Baltimore, Smarty Jones ran his unbeaten streak to eight with a record-setting performance in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I). He won by 11 1/2 lengths, the largest winning margin in the Preakness in the race's 129-year history. He recorded a Beyer Speed Figure of 118 in the Preakness, the highest number recorded by a 3-year-old this year--five points higher than the next-highest number.His bid for the Visa Triple Crown, and another $5-million bonus came to end in the stretch of the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes (gr. I) when he was beaten by Marylou Whitney Stable's Birdstone by a length. It was eight lengths back to the third-place finisher, Royal Assault.