Horse racing is a sport of the unknowns and pure luck, and when it came to injuries and premature retirements, the 1990’s were tough. Four different Eclipse Champion 2-year-olds of the ’90’s never even made it to the Derby due to injury, and all of them later went on to become successful stallions. Maria’s Mon, who never even made it to his 3-year-old season, later went on to sire two Kentucky Derby winners, and many still believe that A.P. Indy would likely have won the Triple Crown if he had remained sound.
Let’s take a look at these five brilliant 2-year-olds who did not have luck on their side.
A.P. INDY (1992)
A.P. Indy won 3 of 4 starts in 1991, including the Grade I Hollywood Futurity. On the Experimental Free Handicap, he was co-ranked the 3rd best 2-year-old of 1991 at 124 pounds, six pounds below the juvenile champion Arazi and one pound below Bertrando.
Had an amazing 3-year-old career but tragically had to be scratched on the morning of the Kentucky Derby after developing a bone bruise following a routine morning jog. His trainer eventually used a fiberglass patch to repair a small, almost invisible crack in A.P. Indy’s hoof, missed the Preakness as a result, and then prepped for the Belmont in the Peter Pan Stakes. A.P. Indy, won by 5 1⁄2 lengths and still managed to be named champion 3-year-old of 1992. Many believe he would have won the Triple Crown.
A.P. Indy later went on to become a hugely influential stud and a major sire of sires.
CAHILL ROAD (1991)
A full brother to 1990 American champion 3-year-old male and Kentucky Derby winner, Unbridled, Cahill Road had tons of promise. With 4 wins, 1 second, 1 thirds in 6 career starts, Cahill Road displayed tremendous talent with a very impressive win in the 1991 Wood Memorial Invitational Stakes. Tragically, he suffered soft tissue injuries to his left foreleg during the race and was quickly pulled up afterwards; the injury forced him into immediate retirement. Many believed he would have gone on to be just as successful as his brother before him. He later would become a successful sire in Washington.
As a 2-year-old, Dehere was simply brilliant! In his 1993 juvenile campaign, the son of Deputy Minister became just the third horse to win all 3 Saratoga Race Course events for 2-year-olds: the Saratoga Special Stakes, Sanford Stakes and the Hopeful Stakes. Dehere’s other major victory as a 2-year-old came in the Grade I Champagne Stakes.
Dehere went into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile having won 5 of his 6 starts. Breeders’ Cup bettors made him a prohibitive favorite, bet down to odds of 7-10. In the race, at the three-quarter pole Dehere looked like he would make a run but then faded and finished eighth to winner Brocco. Despite the loss, Dehere’s 1993 performances earned him the Eclipse Award for Outstanding 2-Year-Old Male Horse.
After his championship 2-year-old season, Dehere’s sophomore campaign was highly anticipated. As a 3-year-old he he ran only twice, winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes impressively. He was going into the 1994 Kentucky Derby trail as one of the favorites, but unfortunately, a fracture of his right hind cannon bone during training took him off the Derby trail and ended his racing career. He was retired to breeding duty at Ashford Stud in Versailles, Kentucky and went on to become a successful sire.
MARIA’S MON (1996)
Maria’s Mon career was one of the big “what could have been” stories. As a 2-year-old, he displayed brilliance in winning major juvenile stakes in New York in the Champagne Stakes, Futurity Stakes, The Sanford, and a 3rd place finish in the Hopeful Stakes. Tragically, Maria’s Mon fractured an ankle heading into the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile and was ultimately retired. With 4 wins, a second, and a third in 7 starts as a juvenile, he earned the title of Eclipse Champion 2-year-old of 1995.
Although we never got to see him as a 3-year-old in the Derby, as a stallion at Rosenthal’s Pin Oak Stud, Maria’s Mon accomplished the rare feat of producing two Kentucky Derby winners -Monarchos (2001) and Super Saver (2010). This successful stud produced over 60 Stake winners.
BOSTON HARBOR (1997)
As a 2-year-old Boston Harbor was seemingly unstoppable! The D. Wayne Lukas trained son of Capote won 6 times and ran 2nd second once in his 7 starts during his juvenile season. In 1996, Boston Harbor swept four important Kentucky stakes races earning the colt an extra million dollars in bonus money. Boston Harbor capped off his brilliant season with a 4th consecutive win in the the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, run that year at Woodbine Racetrack in Canada. His performances earned him 1996 U.S. Champion 2-Yr-Old Colt honors, and his earnings of $1,928,605 set a new earnings record for a 2-year-old racehorse.
Boston Harbor began his very highly anticipated 3-year-old season with a dismal performance – finishing of the board. It was soon discovered he suffered a severe leg injury, and he was retired to stud duty at Overbrook Farm in Kentucky. Later, he was sent to breeders in Japan and is standing at the renowned Shizunai Stallion Station in Hokkaidō.
Among Boston Harbor’s notable progeny is the millionaire colt, Cafe Bostonian, and the multiple stakes winning millionaire filly, Healthy Addiction. He is also the damsire of Sealy Hill, who in 2007 was voted Canadian Horse of the Year. The premature retirement of Boston Harbor in 1997 was considered a huge loss to the racing community and many believe he would have gone on to win Triple Crown races as a 3-year-old.
The untimely injuries and retirement of these five colts will always leave racing fans and historians wondering what would have been.