I met City On Line last summer, on the backstretch at Saratoga. Allen Jerkens’s barn is as far north of the track as you can get, before the grounds at Saratoga give way to the old Greentree facility.
It was feeding time in the afternoon, and the Chief pulled up in his golf cart. “Let’s go see the horses,” he said. We crawled down the shedrow and around the corner, to a round pen that housed a dark bay colt. He watched us as we watched him. “That’s the French horse,” said the Chief.
City On Line (City Zip – Bebe Ani) was bred in New York but began his career in France. He made two starts at age two, breaking his maiden in his second try, at Deauville in December of 2007. He raced three times in France at age three, with a second and a third, racing at Longchamps, St. Cloud, and Deauville.
He came to the United States last summer, and the Chief worked with him through Saratoga and into the fall; he made his U.S. début last October, and at first, Stateside repatriation didn’t seem to agree with him. In six starts between last October and this February, the best City On Line could muster was a well-beaten third.
In March, though, something clicked. In a claiming race on Gulfstream’s turf, he closed from tenth to get second, and three weeks later, still in Florida, he broke his U.S. maiden by three-quarters of a length. Back in New York a week and a half ago, he was a respectable second in an off-the-turf allowance. Last weekend, the Chief smiled as he spoke about the progress the colt had made.
The trainer who believes that horses stay fit through racing, not training, entered City On Line in a state-bred allowance yesterday. According to a NYRA press release, City On Line broke away from his pony in the post parade, dumped jockey Jose Lezcano (who was unhurt) and bolted back through the tunnel to the paddock, where he crashed into the statue of Secretariat. Dr. Anthony Verderosa, chief examining veterinarian, sedated the horse and treated him for trauma in the paddock. Following the determination that City On Line had fractured his femur, he was euthanized.
The Chief always seemed intrigued by this colt, trying to figure out how to help him regain his form. It seemed to be working, and Jerkens was encouraged by his strong finish on the dirt on May 9th. How inexpressibly sad that a freak accident ended his career so suddenly, and so horrifically.
9 thoughts on “City On Line”
I read about this yesterday on ABR. How horrible and tragic. My condolences to all his connections. RIP City On Line.
I was very disappointed and disturbed with Jerry Bossert’s coverage of this horrific accident in today’s Daily News. He gave all of 35 words to this subject and treated it in such a cold fashion. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought he was more upset that the statue of Secretariat was knocked over than he was about the death of a 4 YO Colt.
“I was very disappointed and disturbed with Jerry Bossert’s coverage of this horrific accident in today’s Daily News. He gave all of 35 words to this subject and treated it in such a cold fashion. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought he was more upset that the statue of Secretariat was knocked over than he was about the death of a 4 YO Colt.”Actully there was a full article about it on the next page.
One more thing about Jerry. Unlike other scribes, he alwyas donated whatever money he won in that Gallagher’s Betting Contest to a backstretch charity.
I think Jerry Bossert does a very good job in his work for the Daily News, and to the example you site really cares about the horses and the people on the backside. That’s why I thought it was odd he didn’t discuss this horrific accident in more detail. I checked my edition after you posted and I don’t see anything else about this but what I saw in his usual column. I get my copy as home delivery, so maybe later editions include a story about this, but there is nothing else about this in the edition I have.
As an FYI, Bossert wrote a longer piece on the incident than appeared in the paper. The full article appeared in the on-line edition of the Daily News. http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more_sports/2009/05/21/2009-05-21_secretariat_statue_destroyed_in_crash_fatal_at_belmont_park.html
Thanks, Teresa, for your sensitive and knowledgeable obit for City On Line, which, like the best work of that genre, shifts the focus to his life . . an interesting one . . . rather than his horrific end.As to Bossert, I don’t always like his reporting, but he almost invariably notes the passing of a horse at the track whether thru accident or otherwise, rather than ignoring it, as is sometimes done elsewhere, and he deserves credit for that.
Thanks for reading and commenting, folks. Both Bossert and Fountaine wrote separate articles on this incident, which doesn’t surprise me. As Mitch notes, they nearly always write about significant injuries, if information is available by their deadlines. Thanks, Jenny, for the link.
I was so sad to hear about City On Line’s tragedy. He sounded like such a cool horse. Plus, I own his mom! Do you have any pictures of him? I’d love to see my mare’s baby. Poor guy, I wish I had been able to meet him. He will be missed.