Archarcharch owner Bob Yagos knew something wasn't quite right during Saturday's Kentucky Derby.
Yagos saw his Arkansas Derby winner stumble out of the gate, and he saw the saddle slip forward under jockey Jon Court during the race. More than anything, Yagos could tell something was different about the colt's stride on his way to a 15th-place finish.
It wasn't until five minutes after the race that Yagos learned his horse had been taken from the track in an ambulance.
"That was like somebody had just stabbed you in the heart," Yagos said.
Archarcharch was retired from racing on Sunday after surgery on a fractured left front leg turned up additional cartilage damage. The work was done by noted surgeon Larry Bramlage.
"He said there was just too much cartilage damage," Yagos said. "He ran on it too far, and it would mean he would have a stiff ankle. He could run again but not at the level he's been running, and that's not what we want for him."
Yagos said Bramlage was certain the injury occurred when the colt stumbled leaving the gate.
Despite the injury, Archarcharch and Court managed to finish ahead of four other horses before the colt pulled up lame after the finish.
Archarcharch had pins inserted to repair the fracture following the race, and trainer Jinks Fires said then the colt's racing future was uncertain. That was before the bad news from Bramlage.
Yagos, on his way home to Arkansas on Monday, said Archarcharch will remain at Bramlage's clinic for the next 4-5 days before being taken to Fires' barn at Churchill Downs. He said the colt is then expected to spend the next 60 days recovering in his stall.
"That way his crew can take care of him, and he'll be in familiar surroundings," Yagos said.
Yagos said he and his wife, Val, have already visited a couple of Kentucky farms where Archarcharch might be sent to stud. Bob Yagos, who owns a salvage yard in Arkansas, said the colt's comfort moving forward was his top priority.
"It's not all about the money," Yagos said. "We want someplace we know he's going to be taken care of."
Yagos turned down a pair of $2 million offers to sell Archarcharch following the colt's win at the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park in February. Archarcharch finishes with three wins in seven starts and earnings of $832,744.
Yagos said before the Kentucky Derby that he didn't care if the colt finished first or last as long as he came away from the race healthy. Despite the injury, Yagos said he had no regrets about his first trip to the race as an owner.
"Winning the Arkansas Derby was probably the best thing that's ever happened to us," Yagos said. "It was like he was carrying Arkansas with him into the Kentucky Derby."