A fatal injury to Group 1 placegetter Big Parade has marred the Missile Stakes, which has been taken out by rising sprint star I Am Me.
Racing at the flanks of the winner, Big Parade broke down shortly after entering the straight with Josh Parr doing a tremendous job to stay in the saddle.
The incident also forced Golden Mile out of the race as the well-backed Godolphin galloper had been sweating on a run between the leaders when the drama occurred, jockey James Mcdonald lucky not to hit the deck.
With the carnage unfolding behind her, leader I Am Me ($2.40 fav) skipped clear to comfortably take out the first black-type race of the new season, scoring by 1-3/4 lengths over Dragonstone ($26) with Deepour ($17) running the race of his life for third, another length away.
Given the circumstances, winning jockey Tim Clark’s mood was subdued in the aftermath of the race, but he said I Am Me did a grand job to dominate throughout.
“She was great but it’s not a great feeling coming back to that,” Clark said.
“I was just able to do enough (to hold the lead) without firing her up and once we got on the circle she came back and got control.
“A mare with her talent and that weight, once she got control, she was always going to be hard to beat. She has kicked off her preparation in great style.”
Tom Sherry was rapt with the performance of Dragonstone, describing it as a “career best”, while Ryan Maloney felt Deepour was unlucky not to finish closer.
“He hit the line really well. A little bit stiff not to finish a bit closer, I just couldn’t get out when I needed to,” Maloney said.
McDonald said Golden Mile was trucking into the race when Big Parade broke down and there was little he could do to avoid him.
“He was travelling well, I’ve never been so close to coming down and not coming down,” McDonald said.
Big Parade was attended by vets on the track and was later euthanased, early indications suggesting he suffered a shoulder injury.
Stewards interviewed trainer Joe Pride after the race who said while the horse had a history of minor issues, he had been in perfect health leading into the Missile.
“He obviously came to the races a sound horse today,” Pride said.
In a sad day for racing, the Matthew Smith-trained First In Line also died on Saturday, collapsing in the parade ring after winning the fifth race at Flemington.
– RAS NewsWire