Friday, July 10, 2009

Injury Ends career of Pioneerof the Nile

Injury Ends career of Pioneerof the Nile
Pioneerof the Nile's biggest win came in the Santa Anita Derby.

Zayat StablesPioneerof the Nile, winner of four consecutive graded stakes and second in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), has been retired due to a soft tissue injury to his left front leg.

One of the top colts of his generation, the homebred son of Empire Maker , captured in succession the CashCall Futurity (gr. I), Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II), San Felipe Stakes (gr. II), and Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), displaying an explosive late closing punch. Even in his runner-up performance in the Kentucky Derby, his first race on conventional dirt, he held off the late runs of graded stakes winners Musket Man and Papa Clem.

As a demonstration of the respect he commanded, Garrett Gomez, one of the top riders in the country, elected to ride him in the Derby over the $3.7-million yearling Dunkirk, whom he had ridden to a second-place finish behind Quality Road in the BlackBerry Presents the 58th Running of the Florida Derby (gr. I).

Trainer Bob Baffert was crushed by the injury to the horse he was confident would give him his first Breeders’ Cup Classic victory.

“We noticed a little filling in his leg when we took the bandages off and we were hoping he just rapped it,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “I’m in shock. I was getting so excited about that horse. I loved the way he had been training. He was getting stronger with age and was just starting to mature. He gave us a lot of thrills, going to the Kentucky Derby and running second and winning the Santa Anita Derby. He put me back in the classic spotlight.

"The saddest part is that we hadn’t even seen his full potential," he said. "He was a very game horse, but he had a lot speed for a horse that could go long. I’ve had lot of good horses that didn’t make it as far as he did, so at least we got a chance to see how talented he was.”

Pioneerof the Nile possessed stamina, through his sire and broodmare sire, as well as the speed to shade 1:42 for 1 1/16 miles in the Cashcall Futurity (1:41.95) and Robert B. Lewis (1:41.90) and in his maiden victory (1:41.59) on the grass at Saratoga. He was able to show his talents on all three surfaces – grass, dirt, and synthetic.

“Bob was 100% convinced that he was going to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic,” Ahmed Zayat said. “That was his target right after the Derby. All he wanted to do was keep him happy and healthy until then.