Jan Vandebos of RanJan Racing, Inc. announced last week that Schiaparelli, winner of the July 6 Royal Heroine Mile at Hollywood Park, would be retired sound, rather than trained for the upcoming Breeders’ Cup.
Following the racemare’s gate-to-wire win over the turf, Vandebos excitedly discussed hopes for her lovely gray with OffTrackThoroughbreds.com last week, including her plan to run the gorgeous daughter of Ghostzapper in racing’s richest meet.
But plans changed abruptly when a bone scan done as a precaution, showed a degenerative condition for which the mare had been successfully treated, might now be returning.
Rather than risk injury to the racemare, Vandebos announced late last week that Schiaparelli would be retired, and returned to Springtime Farm in Santa Ynez, Calif., before eventually becoming a broodmare.
“In the winner’s circle, as I was patting her after the race (at Hollywood Park), I told her how much I loved her and looked right into her eyes,” Vandebos says. “Although it’s disappointing, I’m proud of the fact that we were able to retire her sound.
Foal date: March 23, 2008
Earnings: $274,184“I am so happy that she is off the track safe and sound!!!!”
Vandebos has used an abundance of caution with the mare from the moment she entered the world in 2008 weighing only 89 pounds and standing a mere nine-hands high.
The progeny of multiple graded stakes winner and Breeders’ Cup participant Ghostzapper and of talented multiple graded multiple graded stakes winner Cambiocorsa, Schiaparelli was surprising and different, right from the beginning.
“She was so small when she was born, and she wasn’t gray until much later,” Vandebos says. “She was actually a bay at birth, and people didn’t think much of her.”
But Vandebos and her husband Robert Naify loved her. “We just thought she was the most special filly,” she says.
Taking time with race training, Schiaparelli wasn’t started until she was three-and-a-half years old. Before she grew into her fine form, she was too small and immature to race any sooner, Vandebos explains.
“She moved beautifully, but she seemed shy and immature, and it didn’t seem like a good idea to start breezing her until she was more ready,” she says.
When she eventually entered a maiden special weight at Hollywood Park, the filly won. But something was wrong.
“She wasn’t lame when she came off the track, but we noticed she had some swelling to her ankles,” Vandebos recalls.
That small amount of “filling” triggered an all-out veterinary effort to reverse the advance of a condition that Vandebos notes was somewhat comparable to osteoarthritis.
After myriad consultations with a team of veterinarians who had success curing the condition in other racehorses, Vandebos went ahead with a series of treatments, including a regimen of stem cell injections and top-end anti-inflammatory treatments.
Her treatments, that came after seven months of turnout, and that preceded a very gradual return to activity, worked beautifully, she says.
At age five, after bone scans revealed her condition was again normal, Schiaparelli was returned to racing. And she was great!
She won several, and in April lost by a neck to Mizdirection, the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner. “I always thought she could beat Mizdirection. The only reason she lost was that she became distracted.”
With every confidence in her mare, Vandebos entered Schiaparelli in her first Grade 2 race July 6, even as others suggested the mare should be entered in another allowance race instead.
“I said, ‘No. This is her time, it’s her moment,’ ” she says. “Remembering how well she did in the smaller races, I always felt she had much more potential.”
And what a day it was! Watching her mare go gate to wire to beat favored contenders for the win, Vandebos was overjoyed as she began considering the possibility of the Breeders’ cup.
“If it all looks good with her bone scans, that’s where she’ll go,” Vandebos said just two days before the mare’s unforeseen retirement.
When bone scans revealed some changes that concerned her well-respected veterinarians there was never a question. The beautiful mare had already earned $274,184, and it was time for retirement.
“We did not feel comfortable continuing to train her at such a high level with these changes being present,” she says.
“I consulted with several top vets before making this decision.
“I am most proud of the fact that we were able to retire her sound. Her life as a broodmare will be a special one, and she deserves the best.”
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