Grade I Winner Alva Starr Euthanized After Delaware Workout

Alva Starr in the Madison | Coady Media


Gearing up for a start at Saratoga, the fast and consistent 4-year-old filly Alva Starr (Lord Nelson) was euthanized Wednesday at Delaware Park after what was supposed to be a routine workout.

“It was a regular work and everything was going fine,” said owner Dale Ladner. “There were no issues. Then, turning for home she switched leads and there was a problem with her right rear.

“Obviously, it had to be pretty bad for us to make the decision to put her down. This is the first time I have ever been in a situation like this. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I feel so bad for (trainer) Brett Brinkman, her exercise rider, her groom and everyone else who worked with her. I'm completely devastated. I have a small stable and never had a horse like her before. You have to be a special animal to win a Grade I.”

Bred by Ladner and Brinkman, the Kentucky-bred broke her maiden at two at Delaware Park. It was her only start of the year, but she was just getting started. Her first stakes win came in the Dashing Beauty Stakes at Delaware and she followed that up with a blowout win in the GII Raven Run Stakes for her first graded win. She was even better this year, winning the GI Madison Stakes at Keeneland, followed by a second-place showing in the GI Derby City Distaff Stakes at Churchill Downs. In what would turn out to be her final start, she won the June 5 Rehoboth Stakes at Delaware.

In 10 career starts she had never finished worse than second.

“We were ready to take her up to Saratoga and run in the Honorable Miss and the Ballerina,” Ladner said. “Our ultimate goal was the Breeders' Cup. She had been so good to us. She gave a 100% effort every time, she won six of 10 races and made more than $1 million. We hope the family can produce another one like her. That's just not easy to do.”

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