Lemon Drop Kid, a longshot racing for just the fifth time this year, came on in the stretch and won the Belmont Stakes on Saturday as Charismatic finished third in a bid for the Triple Crown.
Shortly after the finish, Charismatic, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, was pulled up by jockey Chris Antley, who immediately dismounted. It appeared the strapping chestnut colt was favoring his left foreleg.
Veterinarian Dr. Larry Bramlage said Charismatic suffered a fracture "similar to twisting your ankle."
Another veterinarian, Dr. Stephen Carr, said X-rays showed it Charismatic fractured his left front cannon bone.
"The bone did not break the skin and does not appear to be life-threatening," Carr said, adding that the horse was given anti-inflammatories and sedatives.
Lemon Drop Kid, ridden by Jose Santos, took the lead from Charismatic with about an eighth of mile left and got to the end of the 1 ½ miles ahead of another longshot, Vison and Verse.
The filly Silverbulletday was in the hunt until the quarter pole and then faded in her bid to become the first of her sex to win the Belmont since Tonya in 1905.
It was the third straight year that a bid for the elusive Triple Crown was foiled, and this one ended on a very sad note.
About five minutes after the end of the race, Charismatic was taken by ambulance to the barn of his trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, for X-rays. The horse bucked as he was unloaded and walked down the shedrow, wearing a hard plastic cast above the ankle bone.
"Naturally our feelings are pretty low, but naturally our main concern is for the horse," Charismatic's owner Bob Lewis said. "We're devastated with the thought that anything could be wrong with Charismatic."
After the race, Antley was in tears.
"Charismatic is going to be OK, I think," he said. "I'm just a little low right now."
Bob Lewis sought to console the jockey, telling Antley: "It's all right. I don't want to see any tears."
Lemon Drop Kid was fifth on the rail turning for home, then went outside for the stretch drive that ended in a victory worth $61.50, $26 and $10.60 and a purse of $600,000, which was three times his previous career earnings.
The grandson of Seattle Slew, the 1977 Triple Crown winner, ran 1 ½ miles in 2:27.89 for his second victory in five starts this year. He had finished ninth in the May 1 Kentucky Derby, then skipped the Preakness two weeks later and prepped for the Belmont with a third in the Peter Pan on May 23 at Belmont.
Lemon Drop Kid finished a head in front of Vison and Verse, who was 1 ½ lengths ahead of Charismatic. Best of Luck was another 4 ¾ lengths back in a field of 12 3-year-olds.
Charismatic was loudly cheered in the post parade and when he was loaded into the gate by a huge crowd, many of whom came hoping to see racing's 12th Triple Crwn winner and first since Affirmed in 1978.
Charismatic was the 8-5 favorite ahead of Menifee (5-2) and Silverbulletday (5-1), winner of 11 of her 12 previous starts and making her debut against males.
Silverbulletday, ridden by Jerry Bailey, finished seventh after being in the lead with a half-mile to go and still second behind Charismatic at the quarter pole.
The crowd roared in anticipation of a stretch battle between the filly and Charismatic, but Silverbulletday faded and Lemon Drop Kid and Vison and Verse stole Charismatic's thunder.
Then suddenly, just strides past the finish line, a damper was put on the 131st Belmont when Antley pulled up his horse and dismounted.
"He broke down just after the finish line," Antley said. "He gave us a lot. He gave America a lot."
It was another disappointment for Bob and Beverly Lewis, who also saw a Triple Crown bid fail in the 1997 Belmont when their Silver Charm finished second.
Charismatic had gone from racing for a $62,500 claiming tag on Feb. 11 to the brink of becoming a racing legend.
Vision and Verse, bidding to become the first Belmont winner who didn't race in the Derby and Preakness since Colonial Affair in 1993, returned $44.40 and $17. Charismatic paid $7.60.
Completing the order of finish after fourth-place Best of Luck were Stephen Got Even, Patience Game, Silverbulletday, Menifee, Pineaff, Prime Directive, Teletable and Adonis.
Lemon Drop Kid is trained by Scotty Schulhofer, the trainer of Colonial Affair. He said earlier in the year he had high expectations for the colt, who was purchased for $200,000 as a yearling by Jeanne G. Vance. Lemon Drop Kid was named by Vance after a champion show horse.
On this cool, sunny Saturday, Lemon Drop Kid stole the show.
The winning mutuel payoff was the highest since 1980, when Temperance Hill beat the filly Genuine Risk and paid $108.80. In fact, the payoff was the third-highest in Belmont history.
Prime Directive broke on top but when the field entered the clubhouse turn, it was Charismatic surprisingly in the lead, followed by Patience Game and Menifee. They held that order entering the backstretch with a mile to go.
Then halfway down the backstretch, Jerry Bailey sent the filly ahead of Charismatic as the crowd roared. At this point, Stephen Got Even was third and Prime Directive fourth.
Silverbulletday led Charismatic past the half-mile pole and into the turn, with Vision and Verse third and Stephen Got Even fourth.
Charismatic was back in front of the filly by the quarter pole and then the charge for victory started. Lemon Drop Kid came out on top, as the Triple Crown drought now goes into a 22nd year.
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