NEW YORK — Call it the curse of A-Rod.
A horse bearing the Yankees slugger's nickname was yanked from what was supposed to be his big comeback race at Belmont Park Thursday — less than a day after Alex Rodriguez the baseball player was yanked out of the hitting lineup during a high-stakes playoff game.
Unlike Rodriguez, A Rod the horse (who has no hyphen in his name) wasn't axed because of sagging performance — the horse prefers running on grass and was pulled out when the race switched to a dirt track at the last minute, trainer Carlos Martin said. He also faced tough 30-to-1 odds in the matchup.
"It was just one of those things," said Martin, 42, a Long Island resident who took over training for owner Peggy Vandervoort a few months ago. "The horse is ready to run. We're just going to re-enter him again, and hopefully he'll be able to run."
The night before, Yankees manager Joe Girardi pulled the slumping A-Rod, who has gone 1 for 12 in the series, out of Game 3 of the ALDS in the ninth inning.
Girardi replaced him with pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez — who went on to hit two home runs, including a walkoff that gave the Bombers a 3-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
Martin, a lifelong Yankees fan, said he's been disappointed by A-Rod's recent struggles — and he wonders if the superstar third baseman could take some lessons from his equine counterpart.
A Rod the horse was also struggling when Martin took over training him — he had only won two of his 13 races in 2011, according to online records.
Martin quickly realized that there was a simple way to improve the horse's performance: castrating him.
The operation, which took place two months ago, smoothed the flow of the horse's run and was a "little adjustment" that made a big difference, Martin said — a lesson he thought A-Rod the baseball player could use.
"A-Rod might need a little adjustment too to get back on his game," Martin joked. "It seems like something's going on."