Breeders' Cup ends on a sad note


Racing:The 2007 Breeders' Cup will be remembered in Europe for all the wrong reasons after the untimely death of George Washington.

Last season's 2000 Guineas and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner had to be put down after suffering an open fracture to both sesamoid bones in the  $5million Classic.

It ended what had already been a thoroughly miserable night for the Europeans, who left Monmouth Park without a winner.

The Aidan O'Brien-trained four-year-old showed up handily early in the  contest, which was run on mud-splattered dirt track after two days of rain, but soon began to struggle.

As Curlin powered away to beat Hard Spun, George Washington's rider Mick Kinane dismounted his horse, who was quickly attended by racecourse veterinary staff.

He could not be saved, however, and the decision was taken to have him humanely destroyed.

O'Brien's wife Anne-Marie was in floods of tears on the rail and was then consoled by her husband as the family walked back into the paddock.

On-course veterinarian and equine joint expert Dr Wayne McIlwraith said George Washington suffered an open fracture of both sesamoid bones.

Dr McIlwraith added: "The decision was made very quickly. The injury was bad and Aidan O'Brien made the request for euthanisation. He was with the horse."

With the exception of O'Brien's Dylan Thomas, most of the foreign challengers ran creditably in defeat on the night, notably his stablemate Excellent Art.

For O'Brien though, Excellent Art's performance to finish second in the Mile will pale into insignificance next to George's demise.

Dylan Thomas put in a lacklustre show to finish fifth behind impressive winner English Channel in the  $3 million Turf.

The Arc winner did not look happy on the rain-softened ground and never travelled at any stage for Johnny Murtagh.

However, Todd Pletcher's English Channel was right at home in the conditions and ran out an impressive winner under John Velazquez.

Former French-trained Shamdinan finished second with last year's winner, Brian Meehan's Red Rocks, running a fine race in third under Frankie Dettori.

The eclipse of the Ballydoyle horse continued the losing streak for Longchamp winners at the Breeders' Cup.

"We always knew that soft ground could be a problem to him," O'Brien said.

"I thought I had Dylan near his best but he was hating every second of it today."

Murtagh underlined O'Brien's view when he said: "He was losing his footing all the time and could never get competitive."

New Jersey resident Pletcher finally broke his Breeders' Cup duck with the locally-owned English Channel. Excellent Art was an unlucky second in the Mile to Kip Deville.

Drawn wide in stall 13, Murtagh elected to bide his time in the early stages and looked on from next to last.

Excellent Art stealthily made progress round the outside but just as Murtagh asked him for his effort, he hung to his left, forcing his rider to take action.

His loss of momentum proved costly as Richard Dutrow's four-year-old, who was supplemented for the race, got first run and held on by just over a length to give Cornelio Velasquez a second winner on the big card following War Pass in the Juvenile.

Sir Michael Stoute's Jeremy was trapped on the rail for much of the race and finished 10th of 13 under Frankie Dettori.

Murtagh said: "I got a lovely run throughout and thought I would win turning into the straight."

O'Brien added: "We were drawn badly and Johnny gave him a great ride.

Henry Cecil's Passage Of Time ran a race full of credit to finish third behind Lahudood and Honey Ryder in the Filly And Mare Turf.

Alan Garcia kicked on turning into the straight on Lahudood and stole two lengths on Cecil's charge, who was in the perfect position but just could not quite get on terms.

Honey Ryder made great late headway to pinch second on the line.

But Jeremy Noseda was non-plussed by Simply Perfect's premature end to the

The Coolmore-owned horse had led over the early stages under Murtagh before going wide at the turn and nearly bumping into an outrider's horse on the far rail.

O'Brien was happy with All My Loving's fifth place finish under Pat Smullen, while Mick Kinane said the soft ground put paid to John Oxx's Timarwa's chances in sixth place.