SARATOGA SPRINGS -- He was a New York-bred champion with a blue-collar pedigree, a 7-year-old gelding with heart and class. As Shakespeare put it in "Henry V'', Saginaw was a warrior for the working day, and he won most of his battles.
Saginaw entered the gate for Friday's third race at Saratoga less than $26,000 short of a million in earnings. The former $25,000 claimer was the odds-on favorite to win for the 13th time in his last 14 races, but he never made it to the finish line.
Saginaw broke down on the far turn, fracturing both sesamoids in his left front leg. His shaken rider, Junior Alvarado, tried to pull him up, but he said Saginaw tried to keep running, as the immortal fillies Ruffian and Go for Wand did after shattering their forelegs. A horse ambulance vanned Saginaw past the grandstand as the teary crowd saluted him with an ovation. An eyewitness said the stricken animal was gazing toward the fans as he heard his last hoorah.
Saginaw was euthanized later in the afternoon after being X-rayed at the barn of trainer David Jacobson.
"It's a very sad day," Jacobson told the Daily Racing Form. "He brought us a lot of joy. It was an honor to work with a horse of his caliber. He had those races where he was beat and refused to lose."
Saginaw hardly ever was defeated since Jacobson claimed him for $30,000 for himself and Drawing Away Stable on March 8, 2012. He had won 14 of his previous 17 races, including five in a row, for his fourth trainer in five seasons of racing. The son of Peruvian, a sire few have ever heard of, had 10 wins in 2012, tying for the national lead. He was 21-for-41 lifetime, with six seconds and three thirds, and earned $974,690. He collected 10 stakes trophies, all while with Jacobson.