Grade I winner Bodemeister has been retired to stand stud at WinStar Farm after being diagnosed with a nerve injury to his left shoulder, his connections announced on Tuesday.
The son of Empire Maker had not run since his runner-up finish to I’ll Have Another in the Preakness Stakes and was sent to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital last week for an examination after trainer Bob Baffert was not satisfied with the way the colt had been training. Bodemeister has begun treatment and a full recovery is expected in the coming months, but the Arkansas Derby winner would not have been able to return in time for major races at the end of 2012.
“Bodemeister has a peripheral nerve injury which caused atrophy of the infraspinatus muscle in his left shoulder,” said Dr. Larry Bramlage, specialist from Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. “Obviously, this made us look at something unusual, rather than a normal lameness. His legs are perfect, but he was clinical when jogging to the left. After ruling out neck issues with X-rays and a myelogram, we feel confident in the diagnosis. It will take approximately 60 days to heal.”
According to Baffert, the injury likely occurred a couple of weeks ago at Del Mar when Bodemeister stumbled significantly during routine training. It was enough to throw his exercise rider to the ground. “He was just never quite right after that and we couldn’t figure out what was going on with him,” said Baffert. “It’s extremely unfortunate. We wanted to win the Breeders’ Cup with him.”
Bodemeister becomes the latest high profile member of this year’s 3-year-old crop to have his career come to a premature end. I’ll Have Another, who was on the verge of a Triple Crown after winning the first two legs, was retired one day before the Belmont Stakes with a tendon injury while eventual Belmont winner Union Rags was retired last month due to a suspensory injury.
Of the top two finishers in each Triple Crown race this year, only Belmont runner-up Paynter is still currently in training.
Initial plans are for Bodemeister to rehabilitate through mid-October at WinStar before being available for inspection by breeders.
“The positive thing is that we now know what the issue is and it’s treatable. Bodemeister will be back to full health,” said Elliott Walden, President & CEO at WinStar. “Unfortunately, he would not be able to come back as a racehorse in time to make any of the year-end goals such as the Breeders’ Cup, so Mr. Zayat, Mr. Moreno and myself came to the conclusion that it was best to retire him. With his raw speed, four Beyers over 100, Empire Maker killing it, and his good looks, we think Bodemeister is the best stallion prospect this year, and we’re looking ahead to what we believe will be an exciting future at stud for Bodemeister.”
The heralded runner-up in this year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Bodemeister became the favorite for the Kentucky Derby after his runaway 9 1/2-length victory in the Grade I Arkansas Derby in April. The Arkansas Derby represented just the fourth career start for Bodemeister – who did not race at 2 – and came after he ran second in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes in March.
“You must always put the horse first, and it is in Bodemeister’s best interest to retire at this time,” said majority owner Ahmed Zayat. “The sportsman in me is very disappointed, because the sky was the limit for his racing career. He is the most brilliant horse that I’ve had the privilege of owning, and my family and I will miss him thrilling us in the afternoons. But every end is a new beginning, and we’ll now look forward with great anticipation to racing little Bodes in the future.”
Bodemeister, who hails from the graded stakes-winning Storm Cat mare Untouched Talent, retires with earnings of $1,304,800 for owners Zayat Stables LLC and Mike & Tiffany Moreno.
“Bodemeister gave me and my family the thrill of a lifetime in the Classics this year,” Mike Moreno added. “I decided to invest in him prior to the Derby because of his exquisite talent and pedigree, and although this injury kept us from fulfilling all of our dreams on the track, I look forward to supporting him in his next career.”
A stud fee will be announced at a later date.