NEW YORK (AP) — Giant Ryan broke his left front ankle while battling for the lead in the True North Handicap at Belmont Park on Saturday, crumbling to the ground in an ugly scene that took place in front of thousands of fans in the grandstand at Belmont Park.

The breakdown happened about 3 hours before the Belmont Stakes.

Larry Bramlage, Belmont’s on-call veterinarian, said Giant Ryan suffered a sesamoid fracture and ligament damage. He said the horse was comfortable in a splint and examined in his stall.

The injury occurred in the stretch of the six-furlong sprint, when the 5-year-old horse owned by Shivananda Racing was abruptly pulled up by jockey Willie Martinez. Giant Ryan staggered forward for a few yards and stumbled to the ground as the rider jumped off.

The horse managed to get back up, and an inflatable splint was applied to the leg. Giant Ryan was able to walk into a horse ambulance to cheers.

Trained by Bisnath Parboo, Giant Ryan won the Grade 1 Vosburgh last year and was making his first start since running fifth in Dubai in March.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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