Main Sequence retired after sustaining tendon tear

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

July 13th, 2015

Dual Eclipse Award winner Main Sequence exited his subpar seventh in the July 5 United Nations (G1) with a torn tendon that has prompted his retirement, connections announced Monday.

Trainer Graham Motion's Herringswell Stables tweeted the following statement from Alan Cooper, racing manager for the Niarchos Family's Flaxman Holdings:

"Following Main Sequence's poor performance in the United Nations Handicap, a thorough veterinary examination was carried out last week.  A tendon tear was discovered and the decision has been taken to retire him. The 2014 Eclipse Champion Turf Male and Eclipse Champion Older Male has given his owners great pleasure throughout his career."

The Herringswell Stables team appended a further message:

"It is with heavy hearts that we share this information along with the news that his regular rider, Rajiv Maragh, is recovering from serious injuries sustained last week during a race at Belmont.

"Having a horse of this calibre who consistently performed at the highest level is an exceptional privilege. We are grateful to the Niarchos family's Flaxman Holdings and to David Lanigan, who facilitated the transfer of Main Sequence to Herringswell at the beginning of 2014."

Lanigan, Main Sequence's original trainer in England, hosted the Motion-trained Animal Kingdom during his venture to Royal Ascot in 2013. The connection forged at that time led to Main Sequence's repatriation and revival under Motion's care.

Here's my review of Main Sequence for's coverage of the Eclipse Awards:

At this time last year, MAIN SEQUENCE (Aldebaran) was convalescing as a new arrival at trainer Graham Motion's barn at Fair Hill, sick with pneumonia upon his repatriation from England. His form had deteriorated, his career at a crossroads. Few could have foreseen that a spectacular renaissance was on the horizon -- a perfect 2014 campaign, all in Grade 1 events, culminating in Eclipse Awards as champion older male and champion turf male and ranking as a finalist for Horse of the Year.

Main Sequence thus supplanted Wise Dan (Wiseman's Ferry), the 2012-13 champion older male and turf male, while not duplicating his sweep of the Horse of the Year title. He has nevertheless staked out a unique place in the record book: Main Sequence is the only U.S. champion turf horse to have gone unbeaten for the season, albeit over a brief four-race span.

A homebred campaigned by the Niarchos Family's Flaxman Holdings, Main Sequence was among Europe's leading three-year-olds in 2012. He won his first four starts for trainer David Lanigan in England, including the Lingfield Derby Trial (Eng-G3) that had been switched to the Polytrack. Main Sequence went off as a 9-1 chance in the Derby (Eng-G1) at Epsom, and although he couldn't get within five lengths of Camelot, he did garner runner-up honors.

The chestnut traveled like the winner in the Grand Prix de Paris (Fr-G1), only to be stymied in traffic and end up a bitterly unlucky fourth at Longchamp. He had misfortune of a different sort in the Great Voltigeur (Eng-G2) at York, in the form of a slow early pace, and he failed by a neck to catch the thieving Thought Worthy. Main Sequence concluded his classic campaign with a fifth in the St Leger (Eng-G1) at Doncaster.

His 2013, however, did not live up to that standard. Winless in six outings, Main Sequence came closest when second, beaten a half-length, by the high-class Mukhadram in the Brigadier Gerard (Eng-G3) at Sandown. He posted a trio of thirds -- in the Buckhounds at Ascot, the September S. (Eng-G3) on Kempton's Polytrack and the misnamed Arc Trial (Eng-G3) at Newbury -- along with a remote fourth in the Pontefract Castle S. After trudging home eighth in the Champion S. (Eng-G1) at Ascot, the Kentucky-bred was sent back home to the United States.

Motion credits then-trainer Lanigan for that inspired decision. Interestingly, Lanigan and Motion had spent time together in the summer of 2013, when Lanigan's yard was hosting Motion's Animal Kingdom in advance of the Queen Anne (Eng-G1). While Animal Kingdom was a bust at Royal Ascot, his English adventure would have a happy side effect. Motion had the opportunity to see Main Sequence, a foreshadowing of their future partnership.

Lanigan was convinced that Main Sequence would thrive in U.S. conditions. But before Main Sequence could vindicate his judgment, he needed time -- plenty of time to recover fully from the pneumonia he contracted in quarantine.

Motion brought him along carefully, until the gelding was training so well that an ambitious plan was hatched: a comeback in the July 6 United Nations (G1), a Breeders' Cup "Win & You're In" event at Monmouth. Main Sequence broke tardily, had little in the way of pace support, but unleashed a ferocious late kick to get up by a neck over Twilight Eclipse (Purim). A turf star was born in his U.S. debut off an eight-month layoff.

The August 16 Arlington Million (G1) was mooted as a possible target, but the Niarchos Family had another colorbearer, French-based Smoking Sun (Smart Strike), penciled in for Chicago. Smoking Sun failed to fire in the Million, winding up sixth, and inviting thoughts about whether the right Niarchos horse lined up.

Main Sequence instead headed to Saratoga for the August 17 Sword Dancer Invitational (G1), and he served up another thriller in nearly carbon-copy fashion. Slowly away after hitting the gate, he still had a three-length deficit in midstretch. But Main Sequence finished like the proverbial freight train to deny front-running Imagining (Giant's Causeway) by a head, with archrival Twilight Eclipse third. His final time for 1 1/2 firm-turf miles was a sharp 2:24 3/5.

Facing the same duo in the September 27 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (G1) at Belmont Park, Main Sequence showed his usual laxity at the break, and his now trademark zest in the stretch, to make it three in a row. He bumped with Twilight Eclipse in the final strides, prompting a stewards' inquiry and an objection from Jose Lezcano. But Main Sequence survived the review and kept his trophy.

As Main Sequence was ascending in the turf ranks, reigning two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan was still in a position to retain his crown. The six-time Eclipse Award winner was in the midst of a perfect season, despite undergoing emergency colic surgery in May. The $7.5 million earner successfully defended his titles in the April 11 Maker's 46 Mile (G1) and May 3 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) prior to his health scare, and he later returned victorious in the August 30 Bernard Baruch H. (G2) and October 4 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1).

Unfortunately, Wise Dan was ruled out of a three-peat bid in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) due to a fractured fetlock. The door was opened for Main Sequence, if he could deliver in the November 1 Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) at Santa Anita.

With regular rider Rajiv Maragh sidelined by injury, would the "quirky" Main Sequence respond as well to Hall of Famer John Velazquez? And even so, could the horse who had fallen from grace in Europe cope with such high-class internationals as Flintshire (Dansili) and Telescope (Galileo)? Main Sequence answered every question, turning in his most professional effort on the biggest stage to clinch a championship. Flintshire could not resist his late charge, and Twilight Eclipse was beaten by a more convincing margin in third.

As it turned out, his Breeders' Cup heroics clinched more than the turf male championship. With the most accomplished older male on dirt, Palace Malice (Curlin), sidelined for the second half of the season, and no other divisional performer stepping up to take over his mantle, the Eclipse electorate honored Main Sequence as champion older male as well.

Having bankrolled $2,610,000 from his perfect four-race season, Main Sequence has compiled an overall mark of 18-8-3-3, $3,298,311.

Main Sequence is a Niarchos product, top and bottom. He is by the Niarchos' champion sprinter Aldebaran (who is himself a son of Mr. Prospector and the Niarchos' multiple Group 1-winning mare Chimes of Freedom). Main Sequence's dam, the Group 3-placed Pivotal mare Ikat, likewise descends from a maternal line cultivated by the Niarchos family. Ikat is a half-sister to the aforementioned Smoking Sun.

Main Sequence's second dam is Group 2-placed stakes victress Burning Sunset (Caerleon), herself a half-sister to 2007 Epsom Oaks (Eng-G1) winner Light Shift (Kingmambo) and English highweight mare Shiva (Hector Protector). Main Sequence's fourth dam is French champion and classic winner Northern Trick (Northern Dancer), who was brought into the Niarchos fold when purchased for $530,000 as a Keeneland July yearling in 1982.

Plans call for Main Sequence to kick off his six-year-old campaign in the February 21 Mac Diarmida (G2) at Gulfstream Park, a springboard to a Dubai tilt on March 28.


Main Sequence duly extended his winning streak to five in that Mac Diarmida, but his Dubai venture didn't pan out as hoped when he wound up seventh in the Sheema Classic (UAE-G1). Hopes were high that he would rebound back on U.S. soil in the UN, where he never factored in his title defense.

The six-year-old gelding retires with a mark of 21-9-3-3, $3,428,591.

Photo courtesy of Breeders' Cup Ltd.