The curse of winning pacing's greatest races has claimed its latest victim.
New Zealand Cup winner Cruz Bromac has been sidelined for the rest of the season by a fetlock injury and his entire career may now even be in doubt.
The injury was revealed by trainer Mark Purdon yesterday with the one-time favourite for next month's Miracle Mile still heading to Sydney, but for a four-month spell on the NSW property of one of his owners.
"It is a fetlock issue and the kind of thing a lot of horses his age might get," explains Purdon.
"He is a horse who has raced at a very high level for a really long time and we hope he comes back but that won't be until next season and we won't know if he makes it back until after he has had his spell."
It is only three months today since Cruz Bromac, beautifully driven by Blair Orange, scored the greatest win of his career in the New Zealand Cup, adding it to the NZ Free-For-All he won the season before. He has also been hugely competitive in two Inter Dominion series, albeit his Final chances at both ruined by bad draws, and yet he is still a touch under-rated for a horse with 23 career wins and over $1 million in earnings.
His last outing was in the Auckland Cup, where he finished fifth, before heading back to Canterbury to prepare for the Miracle Mile.
Cruz Bromac joins a quite remarkable list of open class stars to be sidelined by injuries in the last 16 months dating back to Thefixer's win in the 2018 New Zealand Cup.
He has struggled on and off with hoof problems since and while he had a strong Australian summer last year, Thefixer hasn't won a race this season and looks to be heading to the paddock because of his nagging foot issues.
Turn It Up won that season's Auckland Cup and had a good rest of his 4-year-old season, winning the Jewels, but he has missed all of this year because of injury.
Spankem, who won last year's Miracle Mile and finished second to Cruz Bromac in the NZ Cup, has also been sidelined although his prognosis sounds promising.
And then Ultimate Sniper, who was unbeaten in the Inter Dominions in Auckland in December, broke down after the series and while he is expected to make it back to the track it means that almost every major group one pacing race winner for older horses in New Zealand in the past 16 months has succumbed to injury at some stage.
"We have had a bad run with them but they are all different types of injuries so I am not sure what we can do about it," says Purdon.
"To be honest the only thing I can put it down to is how hard the horses race these days, they go so quick in every race." Purdon will be hoping his latest star, Auckland Cup winner Self Assured, can dodge the curse after his return to winning form at Menangle last Saturday night. He sat parked to win in 1:50.3 as his lead into the A$200,000 Chariots of Fire on Saturday week, likely to be followed by the A$1m Miracle Mile on March 7.
Self Assured was beaten twice, albeit brave both times, in Victoria recently but Purdon thinks he is back to his best form and with strength to match his speed he may prove better suited to Menangle mile racing than many Kiwi pacers.
The stable has Chase Auckland and Stylish Memphis, who Purdon is caretaker trainer for, racing at Menangle this Saturday as they are aimed at the Miracle Mile and NSW Oaks (February 29) respectively.
Before then premier racing returns to Addington on Friday where Princess Tiffany is hot favourite to win the Breeders Stakes, victory in which would give her direct entry to the A$200,000 Ladyship Mile at Menangle on March 7 and another shot at her archnemesis Belle Of Montana.
A G's White Socks continues his Miracle Mile build-up in the A$50,000 Terang Cup on Saturday night while Kiwi trotters Massive Metro and Temporale tackle the A$50,000 Knight Pistol at Melton on Friday night.