Dual Eclipse Award winner Main Sequence was injured in the United Nations Handicap at Monmouth Park July 5 and will be retired by owner Flaxman Holdings.
Trained by Graham Motion, the champion turf male and older male of 2014 has a tendon tear in his left front leg. The injury is not life-threatening, and not necessarily career ending for some horses, but the 6-year-old gelding's racing career is over.
"This is possibly an injury he could come back from, but the Niarchos family feels like he's given them a great ride," said Motion Monday. "You wouldn't want to bring him back as a 7-year-old and try to expect the same from him. He'd be at the end of his 7-year-old year or 8 before he could run again. It would be asking a lot of a horse who's been a champion."
Main Sequence finished with nine wins, three seconds and three thirds in 21 starts. He earned $3,428,666 and won four Grade 1 stakes as part of his 2014 championship campaign. The streak started with the 2014 United Nations and rolled through the Sword Dancer at Saratoga, the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park and the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita. The chestnut opened 2015 with a fifth consecutive win, in the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream Park, but finished seventh in his final two starts - the Dubai Sheema Classic in March and the United Nations.
Motion will miss watching his stable star spin off the turn in major turf races.
"He is one of best horses I ever trained," Motion said. "Obviously I'm going to have frustration that Dubai didn't work out. He was a champion, he went out a champion and you don't get to train many champions."
Main Sequence is not lame in the leg, but the injury showed up on an ultrasound exam after the poor performance. Motion and his veterinarians conferred with Flaxman racing manager Alan Cooper and chose retirement. Main Sequence will leave his Fair Hill Training Center base this week for some turnout and recovery time at Motion's brother Andrew's Old Chapel Farm in Virginia, with a decision on the horse's ultimate retirement path to come.
Main Sequence was bred in Kentucky by Flaxman, and spent the early part of his career in England with trainer David Lanigan. The son of Flaxman-bred stallion Aldebaran and Flaxman-bred mare Ikat won his first four starts at 2 and 3, and finished second to Camelot in the 2012 English Derby at Epsom. Starting with that runner-up effort his overseas career finished with 10 consecutive losses, which prompted Flaxman to send the horse to Motion.
Main Sequence arrived in the United States in January 2014, but was diagnosed with pneumonia shortly thereafter and didn't get to Motion's barn until nearly a month after leaving England. Antibiotics, stall rest and a special feeding program followed, though the horse didn't even walk the shedrow with a rider until March.
His first gallop came March 15, five months after his last race, not that Main Sequence seemed to mind. He got healthy, trained, impressed Motion enough to warrant a U.S. debut in the U.N. against the likes of Kaigun, Twilight Eclipse and Side Glance July 6. Ridden by Rajiv Maragh, Main Sequence broke last in the field of nine, but closed with a rush in the stretch to win by a neck at 8-1. The performances got better from there: a similar swooping rush to catch Imagining in the Sword Dancer and a triumph over Twilight Eclipse in the Turf Classic.
At the Breeders' Cup, Main Sequence was sent off at better than 6-1 against 11 others as Europeans Telescope and Flintshire took most of the betting. The Flaxman horse settled behind much of the field early, and roared past four horses - including the two favorites - in the stretch to win by a half-length as John Velazquez substituted for the injured Maragh.
The victory sealed two Eclipse Awards and garnered Main Sequence support in the Horse of the Year category behind eventual honoree California Chrome.
Motion called for an ambitious schedule in 2015 and all went according to plan with some down time at Fair Hill, steady training in Florida and a powerful win in the Mac Diarmida. The prep earned Main Sequence a trip to Dubai for the $6 million Sheema Classic and a chance to further prove his ability in a world-class race. Normally well back, Main Sequence wound up close to a dull pace and faltered late to finish seventh - his first defeat since October 2013.
A homebred and then some, Main Sequence hails from a deep Flaxman family on both sides of his pedigree.
Flaxman bred and raced his sire Aldebaran, whose dam Chimes Of Freedom was also a homebred. Champion sprinter of 2003, Aldebaran made seven starts in England before joining trainer Bobby Frankel's barn in the U.S. in 2001. He won the Nassau Handicap going a mile on the turf in his American debut, but later proved plenty effective on the dirt with wins in the Grade 1 San Carlos, Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap, Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, Grade 2 Tom Fool and Grade 1 Forego. Aldebaran retired to stud at Darby Dan Farm, where he stood for five years before being sold to the Japan Racing Association for stud duty in that country. He stands at Shizunai Stallion Station in Hokkaido.
Main Sequence's female family starts with his dam Ikat, an English-bred daughter of Pivotal who raced in France for the Niarchos family. Niarchos also bred Ikat's dam Burning Sunset and granddam Lingerie.