Keen Ice retires, will miss Breeders’ Cup Classic

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Keen Ice will be retired after wrenching his right ankle while galloping and won’t run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 4, which was scheduled to be his career finale.

Jerry Crawford, president of Donegal Racing, says the injury isn’t severe, but it was enough for the owners to decide to end the 5-year-old’s career. Keen Ice will be retired to Calumet Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, and begin stallion duties next year.

Keen Ice finished third in last year’s BC Classic and fourth in the 2015 edition. He was third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont in his last start on Oct. 7.

The horse had career earnings of $3,407,245, with three wins in 24 career starts. Keen Ice was trained by Dale Romans early in his career and most recently by Todd Pletcher.

Keen Ice is perhaps best known for upsetting Triple Crown champion American Pharoah to win the 2015 Travers Stakes at Saratoga. He finished seventh in the 2015 Kentucky Derby and third in the Belmont Stakes.

Crawford says Donegal Racing will be first in line to buy any progeny of Keen Ice.

Renowned jockey Jose Flores dies in racing accident

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) A renowned jockey who was among the best in Pennsylvania history died Thursday of injuries suffered in a racing accident.

Parx Racing announced the death of Jose Flores, 56, who was racing Monday at the suburban Philadelphia track when his horse went down and Flores was thrown off. The jockey hit the ground headfirst and suffered a massive trauma.

He was removed from life support Thursday afternoon.

Flores won 4,650 races in a career that spanned more than three decades. He was the top career earner at Parx, formerly known as Philadelphia Park.

“It’s unbelievable, just sickening,” Scott Lake, the top trainer at Parx, who has known Flores since 1991, told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “He was just tremendous, a nice guy, always a professional.”

Flores’ mounts earned $64 million in nearly 29,000 career starts, according to the Equibase thoroughbred database.

Parx called Flores an “outstanding jockey” and expressed condolences to his family.

The Jockeys’ Guild said Flores is the 157th jockey to die in a racing accident in unofficial records going back to 1940. The group said that before Flores, it had no record of a jockey ever being killed in an accident at a Pennsylvania track.

Native River gets wire-to-wire win in Cheltenham Gold Cup

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CHELTENHAM, England (AP) Native River delivered an exhibition in front-running to outlast favorite Might Bite in a thrilling duel to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Britain’s most prestigious jumps race, on Friday.

Ridden by champion jockey Richard Johnson, 5-1 shot Native River took the lead right from the start and was never passed in the race over 3 miles and 2 1/2 furlongs in front of a crowd of 70,000.

After they jumped the last fence, Native River and Might Bite were neck and neck, but Johnson got a kick out of the Colin Tizzard-trained horse on the uphill finish and Native River won by 4 1/2 lengths – a year after finishing third in the race.

For Johnson, it was a second victory in the Gold Cup – 18 years after his first on Looks Like Trouble.

“It’s been a long 18 years,” Johnson said. “To be honest, I was a passenger.

“The more I asked from him, the better he jumped.”

Might Bite’s handler, Nicky Henderson, was looking to become the first trainer to capture the Cheltenham Festival’s three signature races in the same year – the Champion Hurdle, the Champion Chase, and the Gold Cup.

It was Might Bite’s first defeat over fences, and Henderson said the heavy going didn’t do the horse any favors – especially against a rival who is a past winner of the Welsh National and the Hennessy Gold Cup

“It was the right thing to track Native River because no other horse got into the race, he had to be in the right place,” Henderson said of the 4-1 favorite.

“On better ground, stamina wouldn’t have been an issue. But in that ground you have to work so much harder. The winner is a Welsh National winner and the reason I’ve never won that race is because I can’t find horses that go in that ground.”

Native River won his owners 369,822 pounds ($515,000).

Anibale Fly, a 33-1 shot, was third.