Multiple-stakes winner Giant Ryan suffered a sesamoid fracture and ligament damage in the back of his left ankle Saturday while battling for the lead in midstretch of the Grade II True North Handicap at Belmont Park.
The horse crumbled to the track in front of thousands of fans in the grandstand, about three hours before the running of the Belmont Stakes. Giant Ryan staggered forward for a few yards and stumbled to the ground as rider Willie Martinez jumped off.
The horse managed to get back up, and an inflatable splint was applied to the leg. Giant Ryan was able to walk into a horse ambulance to cheers.
Dr. Larry Bramlage, the on-call veterinarian for the Belmont Stakes who made the diagnosis, said the 6-year-old New York-bred "was comfortable in the splint" after he was taken to his stall.
A New York Racing Association spokesman said Giant Ryan would be transported to the New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa., for surgery in an attempt to save him for a stallion career.
Giant Ryan is owned by Shivananda Parbhoo and trained by his father, Bisnath Parboo. Giant Ryan won the Grade 1 Vosburgh last year and was making his first start since running fifth in Dubai in March.
Two races later, Martinez and the father-son team won the Grade II Woody Stephens as Trinniberg took his third graded stakes at 7 furlongs in his past four races. Trinniberg hadn't run since finishing 17th in the Kentucky Derby. He won by 1¾ lengths and paid $7.70 after being timed in 1:22.26. He earned $240,000 for his fourth win in eight starts, raising his career total to $581,300.
"We're still sad about what happened with Giant Ryan," Martinez said. "It's a bittersweet win. I have mixed emotions, but not to take away from Trinniberg's performance, which was unbelievable."