Diazo Hurt, Will Skip Santa Anita Handicap
Diazo, winner of the Strub Stakes and one of the favorites for Saturday’s Santa Anita Handicap, suffered a broken bone in his lower left foreleg during a workout Sunday and has been withdrawn from the $1-million race.
“The timing was bad on this,” trainer Bill Shoemaker said Monday. “But they tell me that it’s not a real bad fracture and there’s a 75% to 85% chance that he’ll be able to run again.”
Diazo is an unwilling workout horse, so not much was made of his slow time of 1:44 2/5 for a mile Sunday morning.
“I thought he worked good,” Shoemaker said. “Laffit (Pincay) said that he didn’t feel anything until he was pulling him up. Then (Diazo) sort of flinched.”
X-rays showed a lateral fracture in the cannon bone, which runs between the ankle and the knee. Veterinarian Greg Ferraro inserted a screw Monday to fuse the break. The estimated recovery time is six months.
Diazo’s victory in the $500,000 Strub on Feb. 6, his sixth in 13 starts and second of the winter at Santa Anita, gave Shoemaker his biggest training victory. Starting in 1954 with Rejected and going through Lord At War in 1985, Shoemaker won the Santa Anita Handicap a record 11 times. Diazo would have been his first starter in the 1 1/4-mile race as a trainer.
“It’s different when you’re training,” Shoemaker said. “When you were riding and your horse got hurt, you’d start looking around for another horse. Can’t do that now.”
Also out of the Big ‘Cap is Slew Of Damascus, whose training has been compromised by a foot injury suffered when he broke through the starting gate before the San Antonio Handicap.
Trudy McCaffery, co-owner of Bien Bien with John Toffan, said Monday no decision has been made about their 5-year-old, who is the highweight for Saturday’s race. The owners and trainer Paco Gonzalez think Bien Bien’s 120-pound assignment is about three pounds too much.
“What does this say about our handicap horses?” McCaffery said. “If our horse, who’s only won one race in his life on dirt, gets 120 pounds, what does it say about the rest of them?
Allen Paulson, who owns Diazo, still has two probables for the Big ‘Cap in Stuka, who is trained by Gary Jones, and Corby, who is trained by John Sadler. Stuka ran third in the San Fernando Stakes on Jan. 16, finishing 2 1/2 lengths behind his stablemate.