Tin Cup Chalice, who on Monday was named the 2008 New York-bred champion 3-year-old male, was killed Friday in "a freak accident" during training hours at Finger Lakes, according to trainer and part-owner Michael Lecesse.
Lecesse said that Tin Cup Chalice was jogging clockwise on the Finger Lakes main track when a horse who was breezing counterclockwise blew the turn coming into the stretch, bolted to the outside fence, and crashed right into Tin Cup Chalice. A television report out of Rochester, N.Y., identified the other horse as Zany, who also was euthanized.
Lecesse said he thinks Tin Cup Chalice died because of injuries to his spinal cord, but that an autopsy would be performed on the gelding. Lecesse, who owns Tin Cup Chalice along with Scott Van Laer, said the horse was insured.
"He was sort of paralyzed behind," Lecesse said. "He didn't have any movement in his back legs. We couldn't get him up. We worked on him for an hour, hour and a half."
Lecesse said that jockey Pedro Rodriguez, who was on Tin Cup Chalice at the time, was examined at a local hospital for neck pain, but was released. Gennie Cook, who was on Zany, also escaped injury.
Lecesse said he had entered Tin Cup Chalice in a race for Friday's opening-day card at Finger Lakes, but the racing office didn't use the race because it only had five horses.
"If he would have been in today, he wouldn't have been on the track this morning," said Lecesse, who added, "it's nobody's fault."
Tin Cup Chalice, a son of Crusader Sword, won the first seven starts of his career. That included a sweep of the Big Apple Triple, which included the Mike Lee at Belmont, the New York Derby at Finger Lakes and the Albany at Saratoga. In becoming the first horse to sweep the three-race series, Tin Cup Chalice earned his connections a $250,000 bonus.
After suffering his first defeat, by a neck in the Step Nicely Stakes at Belmont last Sept. 14, Tin Cup Chalice won the Grade 2 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park. Tin Cup Chalice earned an invitation to the Japan Cup Dirt, a race in which he finished 13th.
Lecesse said Tin Cup Chalice had been training "like a superstar."
"I was looking forward to having a great year with him," Lecesse said. "He's the best horse I ever trained."