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Cape Blanco is to be retired to stud after sustaining a knee injury when winning at Belmont Park in America on Saturday.

The four-year-old, trained by Aidan O’Brien, just held Dean’s Kitten by a nose in the Joe Hirsch Classic Invitational.

O’Brien’s charge was completing a hat-trick of Grade One victories in the United States, having previously won the Arlington Million and the Man O’War Stakes, and was considered a major player for the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

“Cape Blanco is an extremely talented and courageous horse with a tremendous attitude to his racing so we will all be very sad to see him leave Ballydoyle,” O’Brien said.

“The fact that he never once changed leads in the home straight in spite of his injury just goes to prove what a brave horse he is.”

The son of Galileo won nine of his 15 races and amassed prize money totalling more than STG2.5 million ($A4.08 million).

He had been ridden by Jamie Spencer in all his six starts this year after the jockey’s main patrons, Jim and Fitri Hay, bought a share in the horse from Derrick Smith, Sue Magnier and Michael Tabor.

He had not raced in Europe since finishing down the field to Canford Cliffs over a mile (1600m) in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.

However, his victories over middle distances did include the Irish Derby and Irish Champion Stakes and he defeated Workforce in the Dante Stakes at York last year.

“It is very disappointing for all the partners, especially the Hays, as we were very much looking forward to the Breeders’ Cup,” O’Brien said.

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