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Horse Racing / Bill Christine : Track Tragedy: Heart Attack Kills Bedside Promise

October 23, 1987|Bill Christine

The four Jawl brothers, who owned Bedside Promise, had agreed to a $3-million deal for the horse.

The contract had been drawn up and the money was in escrow. It was going to be signed after Bedside Promise ran in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Hollywood Park Nov. 21. The 5-year-old son of Honest Pleasure would then go with his new owners to Texas, where he would be bred to both thoroughbred and quarter horse mares.

"You wait for a horse like this all your life," said Sony Jawl, one of the four British Columbia lumbermen, while waiting for Bedside Promise to run at Hollywood Park earlier this year.

Last Saturday afternoon, Jawl was on his way back to the barn at Bay Meadows, hoping there would be explanations for Bedside Promise's last-place finish in the Fall Sprint Championship. He had expected that race to prepare the horse for his challenge of favored Groovy in the Breeders' Cup.

Jawl eventually reached the barn. Bedside Promise didn't.

Being led off the track to the stable area only minutes after the race, Bedside Promise collapsed and died near the eighth pole. An autopsy this week revealed that he had suffered a massive heart attack. He reportedly was insured for about $1 million.

Gary Stevens was aboard Bedside Promise Saturday, after riding the $50,000 yearling to wins at Santa Anita, Bay Meadows and Hollywood Park this year, which had swelled the horse's earnings to almost $1 million. Stevens told Bobby Martin, Bedside Promise's trainer, that the horse "went limp" with three-eighths of a mile to run.

"I've been quoted that the horse made gurgling sounds when I pulled him up, but that's not true," Stevens said. "He didn't act like there was anything wrong with him until we got back to the unsaddling area.

"I've been on several horses that broke down and died on the track, but this one was something different. This was like someone in your own family dying. He was the bravest horse I ever rode, as far as heart (is concerned)."

Because of a little-known policy among California state veterinarians, Alysheba has been reclassified as a non-bleeder as he prepares to run in the $3-million Breeders' Cup Classic.

To get back on the bleeders' list in California--and qualify to run on Lasix, a medication that curbs hemorrhaging in the lungs--Alysheba would have to bleed in a workout or a race here and be certified by two veterinarians. Alysheba lost his California Lasix privileges because he ran elsewhere in at least two races without the medication and didn't bleed.

Actually, Alysheba had three Lasix-free races--the Belmont and the Travers in New York and the Haskell Handicap in New Jersey.

Jack Van Berg, who trains Alysheba, would be better off if he ran Alysheba in the Breeders' Cup without Lasix, since it appears that the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Super Derby winner doesn't need the medication. There are skeptics in the East who may not vote for Alysheba for horse of the year even if he wins the Classic, because they figure that he needs Lasix to win.

On the surface, that does appear to be the case. Since he first bled in a race at Santa Anita in early March, Alysheba is winless in three starts without Lasix but has finished first four of five times with the medication.

But when Van Berg, apparently because he didn't want to subject the colt to five hours in a pre-race detention barn at Monmouth Park before the Haskell, voluntarily ran him without Lasix, that should have eliminated Alysheba's label as a drug-store horse.

Alysheba lost by a neck to Bet Twice in a slam-bang finish. Without Lasix, it was a winning effort even though Van Berg's horse didn't win.

The decision on supplementing Super Diamond for $360,000 in the Breeders' Cup Classic won't be made until Nov. 9, which is the day the $120,000 first payment is due.

Trainer Eddie Gregson said that Super Diamond won't run between now and the Breeders' Cup, adding that the decision will be determined by:

--The condition of the horse.

--A long-range weather forecast.

--The results at Santa Anita of the Goodwood Handicap Nov. 7 and the Koester Handicap Nov. 8, races that might involve some of Super Diamond's opponents in the Breeders' Cup.

Horse Racing Notes Skywalker, who spent this spring at stud, will make his first start since February when he runs today at Santa Anita in a seven-furlong allowance race. Skywalker won last year's Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita and is being prepared for the same race this year. . . . Dream Team, Tomorrow's Child, Sheesham and Fa La Te Dough--the first four finishers in the Anoakia Oct. 10--are entered in the $200,000 Oak Leaf Saturday at Santa Anita. Dream Team will be joined by two other Wayne Lukas trainees--Blue Jean Baby and Del Mar Futurity winner Lost Kitty. Another starter is Braujoia, who is being supplemented into the race for $10,000. Braujoia, a $32,000 claim at Del Mar, won a stake at Fairplex Park in her last start.

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