The 2004 2-year-old filly champion, Sweet Catomine, whose fifth-place finish as the favorite in the April 9 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) was followed by a controversy over her physical condition, has been retired.
"After the Santa Anita Derby, I had Sweet Catomine evaluated when she was in the barn of John Shirreffs," owner and breeder Marty Wygod told The Blood-Horse
Wednesday. "Based on what the veterinarian said, I have decided to retire her and breed her to A.P. Indy
. I wanted to retire her while she was sound. She will be shipped to Kentucky in the next two days and will be at Mill Ridge Farm."
Wygod would not provide any details on what aspect of the veterinary inspection led to his decision to retire his prized Storm Cat
filly. She was transferred from trainer Julio Canani to Shirreffs after the Santa Anita Derby, in which she was beaten five lengths by long shot Buzzards Bay. It was the first time in seven career starts Sweet Catomine had finished worse than second.
After the race, Wygod said he had considered scratching Sweet Catomine from the Santa Anita Derby because she had bled in her final workout and was in season. Wygod also said he told Santa Anita officials the filly might be scratched. Five days before the race, Sweet Catomine was shipped to the Alamo Pintado equine medical clinic several hours north of the Los Angeles area. She was treated in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber at the clinic.
Following Wygod's comments the California Horse Racing Board launched an investigation and subsequently filed complaints against Wygod, Canani, and the van driver who allegedly transferred Sweet Catomine to the clinic. The CHRB alleged Sweet Catomine had been misidentified to security personnel as a stable pony when she left and returned to the track by horse van the following day.
More recently, an individual who said he wagered on Sweet Catomine in the Santa Anita Derby has filed a lawsuit saying he and others were defrauded because the filly's health problems were not disclosed prior to the race.
Wygod has denied any wrongdoing in the wake of the CHRB charges and the lawsuit brought by the racing fan. "I believe (the suit) is without merit, and we intend to defend ourselves vigorously," he told The Blood-Horse
Sweet Catomine won five of her seven starts, losing only her maiden debut at Del Mar last July 31 and the Santa Anita Derby. All of her wins were in graded stakes, three of them grade I: the Del Mar Debutante, Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, and Santa Anita Oaks. Produced from the Kris S. mare Sweet Life, Sweet Catomine earned $1,059,600.
"She was a brilliant filly," said Wygod, who bred and owned Sweet Catomine with his wife, Pam.