Charismatic, standing on the threshold of sweeping the Triple Crown, missed his date with history yesterday when he ran third in the Belmont Stakes behind the 29-1 long shot Lemon Drop Kid. And, worse, in a stunning finish to the saga of the colt who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness at long odds, Charismatic fractured two bones in his left front leg as he crossed the finish line.
The injury did not appear to be life-threatening but it ended his racing career.
It also brought a sorrowful close to what had been a rousing day at Belmont Park, with a record crowd of 85,818 on hand in perfect weather to see if Charismatic could become the first horse in 21 years to win the Triple Crown. Instead, he became the 15th horse, and the third in three years, to win the Derby and Preakness but fail to cross the finish line first in the mile-and-a-half race.
Charismatic, who ran in a claiming race in February before surging to the top of the 3-year-old racing world in the past two months, will undergo surgery late this morning. Dr. Larry Bramlage, a veterinarian from Lexington, Ky., reported that the colt had cracked the cannon bone just above the ankle and had fractured the sesamoid behind it.
”It is not life-threatening,” Bramlage said, ”but it definitely means his racing career is over. However, he should be fine as a stallion.”
Chris Antley, the jockey who overcame problems of weight and substance abuse and made a roaring comeback aboard Charismatic in the Derby and the Preakness, quickly jumped off the horse at the end of the race and lifted the colt’s injured leg off the ground. Antley was clearly shaken by what had happened and was tearful as he spoke.
”He broke down right after we crossed the wire,” he said. ”He gave us a lot. He gave America a lot.