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Requiem for a champion
Arcadius death, following its Iroquois win, leaves jockey Crowley searching for answers
BRIAN CROWLEY CELEBRATED his first real win in America when he rode Arcadius to victory in the 2010 Woodward-Kirkover Chase at the 2010 Carolina Cup. - photo by C-I photo by Tom Didato
As he prepared to tack up Cougar at Heart for a mid-Monday morning gallop at the Springdale Race Course, Brian Crowley peered beneath the neck of the 5-year-old mare and pointed a finger across the way to the vacant stall 618 which was occupied by Arcadius.The slightest bit of a smile creased the face of the 31-year-old Irish steeplechase jockey as he talked about a scene which unfolded as recently as four or five days earlier.“He’d had his head looking out and his two ears out (of the stall),” Crowley said as his voice trailed off. “To know that you’re not going to see that again …”In a way, Monday’s rain reflected the mood around Ashwell Stables, the Camden base for Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard where pleasantries were exchanged in muted tones, but with a smile nonetheless, to a reporter who stopped by the barn. Who would have blamed the workers had they given the cold shoulder to the visitor, considering the scene which transpired two days earlier in the 71st running of the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville.On what should have been the barn’s crowning achievement of the 2012 National Steeplechase Association spring season, the post-race death of Arcadius, an 8-year-old gelding, drastically altered the mood of the Sheppard team.Arcadius upset the field in the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois Hurdle Stakes for his second career Grade I victory.