Kristine and John Richter's Bien Nicole, runner-up to Riskaverse in Saturday's $150,000-added Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs, came out of the race with a leg injury that required surgery.
Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said the 5-year-old daughter of Bien Bien suffered what he described as a "small condylar fracture" in her left hind leg. She traveled by van to Lexington, Ky.'s Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, where she underwent surgery to repair the fracture on Sunday morning.
"We thought she ran a very good race," said Von Hemel by telephone. "Then about ten minutes after she got back to the barn she started to show some lameness in her left hind. X-Ray's revealed a small condylar fracture."
Von Hemel said it is too early to know the impact that the surgery would have on the future of Bien Nicole. He said there's no reason to rush a decision on whether Bien Nicole would find a new home on a breeding farm or look at a possible return to racing.
After a spectacular season highlighted by a 7 1/4-length romp in the WinStar Galaxy (gr. IIT) at Keeneland and a runner-up finish to Heat Haze in the Beverly D. (gr. IT) at Arlington Park, Von Hemel said there was a chance that Bien Nicole would have been retired to the breeding shed in any case.
"She may very well be retired, but the injury is such that she should return at a hundred percent," he said. "We're just happy that the injury wasn't any worse than it was and for all the good that she has done for us."
The runner-up finish in the Cardinal improved Bien Nicole's record in 2003 to 4-3-0 in 10 races. She has a sparkling career slate of 12-8-2 in 26 races and has earned $1,074,620.