Blood discovered in foot of No. 2 betting favorite for $4.7 million race

Rock Hard Ten, unbeaten in three races this year, was the second favorite behind Saint Liam and a candidate for Horse of the Year.

Updated: 3:39 p.m. ET Oct. 29, 2005
NEW YORK - The injury is minor, the loss major: Horse of the Year contender Rock Hard Ten is out of Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The loss was another blow to the richest race in North America, with many top horses out because of injuries or retirement. Among the missing are Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, Preakness and Belmont winner Afleet Alex, Ghostzapper and Roses in May.

But there are plenty of stars ready to shine on Breeders’ Cup day, including unbeatens Lost in the Fog in the Sprint and First Samurai in the Juvenile, and Ashado makes her farewell appearance in the Distaff.

Injuries, though, have a way of popping up at the last minute.

“I’m very disappointed,” Rock Hard Ten trainer Richard Mandella said Friday, his 4-year-old colt injuring his right front foot after a morning gallop around Belmont Park. “But I’ve been training a long time, and once you get your senses about you, you’re thankful it happened here and not on the track when he could have broken a leg or gotten hurt badly.”

Rock Hard Ten, winner of his three races this year, was the second favorite behind Saint Liam, the Woodward winner who could win Horse of the Year honors with a victory in the $4.7 million Classic.

The 1¼-mile Classic will go on with a field of 13, and trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. can’t wait to showcase Saint Liam.

“We’re all in, babe,” Dutrow Jr. said.

With Jerry Bailey aboard, Saint Liam is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the adjusted odds, with Pacific Classic and Jockey Gold Cup winner Borrego next at 3-1 and Australian champion Starcraft at 8-1.

The Classic may lack its usual star power, but the same can’t be said for the seven other Breeders’ Cup races.

Bailey, who leads all riders with 14 Breeders’ Cup wins, will be aboard four favorites — Saint Liam, Shakespeare, Ouija Board and First Samurai.

“I think somebody will step up,” he said. “It’s just a matter of who.”

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