The racing career of 2013 Hambletonian champion Royalty For Life is over after veterinarians at Cornell University Equine Hospital diagnosed a significant tear of a suspensory in a hind leg. The injury was discovered by trainer George Ducharme two days before the John Cashman Jr. Memorial eliminations on July 26 at the Meadowlands, which led to the 4-year-old trotter being scratched.
"X-rays were taken and they determined that there was a greater than 50 percent tear of a hind suspensory, so he is not going to race again,” co-owner Paul Fontaine told harnessracing.com.
On the strength of his wins in the Hambletonian, Canadian Trotting Classic and Stanley Dancer Memorial, Royalty For Life was voted the 2013 Three-Year-Old Colt Trotter of The Year. However, his season ended abruptly when he was scratched "lame” as the morning-line favorite in the mid-October Breeders Crown final at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Bone chips in a knee were discovered, which led to surgery and a subsequent delay to his 4-year-old campaign.
Royalty For Life made just two starts at the Meadowlands in 2014, the first coming July 5 in the Hambletonian Maturity where he finished eighth after being interfered with. He then finished third in a July 18 overnight, which brought his career earnings to $1,620,166. While he took a race mark of 1:52, his career best is a 1:51.3 qualifying effort.
"This is two significant injuries in a row, after last fall when we had to scratch him from the Breeders Crown because of a bone chip in a knee,” said Fontaine, who shares ownership of Royalty For Life with Alfred Ross and Raymond "Chip” Campbell. "That was an unfortunate injury that was operated on. We wintered him and brought him back easy and he was coming back terrific."
Ducharme said Royalty For Life was at Cornell just a few hours and he is now back in his stall at his home base at Vernon Downs.
"He will stay with me until he heals up enough and then we'll make a plan,” said Ducharme. "He'll have stall rest under my watch, rather than at some farm where he tears himself up because he can't go out. He's fine and not in any pain. The leg looks pretty good. We've been hand-walking him every day and now waiting for the owners to decide what the next move is.”
Fontaine said he will now sit down with Ross and Campbell, who also owns Royalty For Life's sire, RC Royalty, who stands at the Morrisville College Equine Institute, and decide on Royalty For Life's stallion career.
"We're going to see what he needs in terms of treatment and stall rest, and then shift gears and determine what is best for his future in terms of breeding and standing at stud.”—By Gordon Waterstone