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Skywalker Has Fractured Shin, Will Miss Sunday's Big 'Cap

March 06, 1987|BILL CHRISTINE | Times Staff Writer

Skywalker, a horse whose career has frequently been compromised by injuries, was declared out of Sunday's $1-million Santa Anita Handicap Thursday after X-rays showed that he has a fracture of the left front shin.

Trainer Michael Whittingham said that Tom Tatham, who manages the syndicate that bred and owns Skywalker, has the choice of either retiring the 5-year-old to stud now or giving the injury three months to heal before trying to run him again. There might also be the option of sending Skywalker to stud now, at the start of the current breeding season, and then returning him to racing action later in the year.

Skywalker injured the same leg that showed a fracture after the 1985 Kentucky Derby, although Whittingham said the latest problem is in a different area.

After winning the Santa Anita Derby, Skywalker finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby. He didn't require surgery but was sidelined for 11 months.

Skywalker returned last April, won three stakes and then capped the year with an upset win in the $3-million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita in November.

Skywalker's first start this year was a second on the grass in the Arcadia Handicap at Santa Anita last Saturday. Skywalker has earnings of $2.1 million.

Whittingham said that Skywalker galloped without distress Wednesday, but X-rays were taken Thursday when he seemed to be favoring the leg in his stall.

The absence of Skywalker may increase the size of the field for the Big Cap, which pays five places, including $25,000 for fifth. When entries are taken today, Snow Chief, Broad Brush and Bedside Promise are expected to go, plus three horses--Ferdinand, Epidaurus and Bruiser--that are trained by Charlie Whittingham, Michael's father. That group may be joined by Nostalgia's Star, Hopeful Word and Bozina.

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