Star sprinter put down after injury

An absolute pall was cast Saturday morning at Santa Anita when the star sprinter Points Offthebench suffered a catastrophic injury near the sixteenth pole on the main track when going through what was supposed to be his final workout toward the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Mike Smith was aboard Points Offthebench, who was breezing just outside of a workmate, when the 4-year-old gelding suddenly broke down in his right foreleg, creating an inordinately loud, sickening sound and throwing Smith to the dirt. The jockey was up within seconds and was the first to attend to the prone horse, who was euthanized about 15 minutes later.

Tim Yakteen, the gelding’s trainer, happened to be directly across from the scene of the accident when watching the workout from atop a flight of grandstand steps. He immediately ran down to the stricken horse, along with his wife, HRTV broadcaster Millie Ball, who had been watching with him.

"Anytime you lose one, it’s tough," Yakteen said later on Saturday morning. "It’s very sad."

Smith was not injured but was upset, understandably.

The accident occurred at about 7:45 a.m. Pacific and halted training for about 30 minutes at a time when a number of works toward the Breeders’ Cup had been scheduled. With quite a few fans among those on site in the area of Clockers’ Corner, two curtains eventually were used in shielding the ghastly sight from view.

Points Offthebench, bred in California, was going to be the program favorite for the BC Sprint next Saturday, Nov. 2. Bred in California by Gary Rocks and owned by Donnie Crevier and Charles Martin, he won 6 of 8 starts for earnings of $514,940. His status as the likely favorite stemmed largely from back-to-back victories in Grade 1 races in the final two starts of his career, the July 28 Bing Crosby at Del Mar and the Oct. 5 Santa Anita Sprint Championship.

– additional reporting by Steve Andersen

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