Brilliance matching sunshine was eclipsed by tragedy Saturday on racing's biggest day in the Breeders' Cup at Belmont Park.
Meadow Star, the 2-year-old filly, glittered as her name suggests.Go for Wand died.
So did Mr. Nickerson.
That's what the seventh Breeders' Cup day will be remembered for.
Go for Wand, the brilliant 3-year-old filly, crashed to the ground while fighting off Bayakoa in a desperate bid for victory in the Distaff.
Mr. Nickerson collapsed and died on the first turn in the Sprint.
Go for Wand shattered her right front ankle just a stride inside the sixteenth pole, falling and spilling jockey Randy Romero. Bayakoa charged on to victory, but most of the crowd of 51,236 was watching Go for Wand.
The filly struggled to her feet and staggered to the finish line. Just past the wire, she was wrestled to the ground by those trying to help her. Then she was humanely destroyed.
The victory for Bayakoa, a 6-year-old mare, was her second straight in the 11/8-mile Distaff.
Mr. Nickerson apparently died of a heart attack. After he fell, Shaker Knit tumbled over him. Mr. Nickerson's jockey, Chris Antley, sustained a broken right collarbone, but Jose Santos, aboard Shaker Knit, returned to win the Juvenile Fillies on Meadow Star and the Juvenile on Fly So Free.
It was first believed Shaker Knit was not seriously hurt, but Dr. Albert Saer said later the horse had suffered "acute trauma of the spinal cord."
The dazzling sunshine may have done in European-bred Dayjur in the Sprint. In the stretch, he charged along the rail in a streak of sunshine, while the rest of the track was in shadow. Inside the sixteenth pole, it appeared Dayjur would beat the filly Safely Kept when, 25 yards from the wire, he jumped a shadow.
That cost him as Safely Kept won the six-furlong race by a neck.
Royal Academy, starting from the No. 1 post, back to last shortly after the break, then brought him around horses to win the Mile on the turf over Itsallgreektome.
Fly So Free took command of the 1 1-16th-mile Juvenile with 5-16ths of a mile remaining and beat Take Me Out by three lengths.
In the 11/2-mile Turf, it appeared 1989 Canadian Triple Crown winner With Approval was headed for victory. But, in a cavalry-charge finish, Gary Stevens put In The Wings on the lead near the wire for a one-half length win over the Canadian-bred.
The unbeaten Meadow Star broke from the No. 10 post in the 12-horse Juvenile Fillies and Santos kept her on the outside because "I was taking no chances."