On a rainy day marred by the stunning swings of racing fortune, the star thoroughbred Prairie Bayou suffered a fractured foreleg and did not survive the Belmont Stakes yesterday while the long shot Colonial Affair was taking the race and Julie Krone was riding into history as the first woman to win any of the Triple Crown classics.
Female riders were 0 for 7 in the Classics, and Krone herself had not won in three previous Triple Crown appearances. But she guided Colonial Affair through the homestretch to defeat Kissin Kris by two-and-a-quarter lengths in a race that saw four outsiders finish on top.
But her victory was tempered by the shock of the accident that cost the life of Prairie Bayou.
“It’s like losing a member of your family,” Krone said. “He wins one of the classics and nearly wins another. It’s a wrenching, heartbreaking thing.”
Prairie Bayou, second in the Kentucky Derby five weeks ago and first in the Preakness three weeks ago, was racing down the backstretch 11th in the field of 13 when he suddenly buckled to his left. His rider, Mike Smith, sensed the 3-year-old gelding had taken “a bad step, it was raining and kind of slippery.” And Smith bailed out over the horse’s right side while Prairie Bayou tried to continue jogging for several hundred more yards before pulling up.