In its Breeders’ Cup wrap-up (11/3/13), The New York Times used words like “awe-inspiring,” “breathtaking,” “beautiful,” and “thrilling” to describe the action. But, as indicated by the article’s title (“Moving Moments Send Shivers, Both Good and Bad”), there was a smattering of black (or red) in Santa Anita: Points Offthebench (dead), Centralinteligence (vanned off, had surgery), Secret Compass (dead).
The Times notes that Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Secret Compass’ trainer, “was visibly shaken by the death.” But I wonder, was the $200 million lifetime earner similarly affected when he lost seven horses to “Sudden Death Syndrome” – defined by the Los Angeles Times as “when a healthy horse, training or racing, returns to the barn and dies, inexplicably, within an hour” – in a recent 16-month period (Nov 2011 – Mar 2013)? Maybe, maybe not. But with 2-year-old Secret Compass having just won a $250,000 Grade 1 at Santa Anita in September and seemingly well on her way to a lucrative career, the guess here is that this one stung just a bit more.
Baffert, of course, recovered in plenty of time to enjoy two wins totaling $3.5 million later in the Breeders’ Cup day. Funny how money and adulation so quickly heal the wounds.
The trainer, following his BC Sprint victory with Secret Circle, just four hours after losing his other “Secret” to a broken leg…