Kentucky Derby Winner Injured, Will Take Time Off

Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands winner Animal Kingdom has suffered an injury to his left hind leg, Team Valor International president Barry Irwin confirmed June 16.

Dean Richardson, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, head of surgery at the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center, examined a nuclear scan June 15 that indicated something was amiss with the colt's left hock. On June 16 both Richardson and Larry Bramlage, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, in Lexington, examined radiographs of the hock and discovered a small fissure on the tip of the cannon bone where it joins the lower part of the hock.

Irwin said he hopes Animal Kingdom can return to training in a few weeks, but a summer campaign is almost certainly out of the question. He was supposed to make his next start in the July 31 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.

"I would think the summer races are going to be out," Irwin said. "We'll look forward to a fall campaign."

The injury is thought to have occurred at the start of the June 11 Belmont Stakes when Animal Kingdom was bumped by Mucho Macho Man, causing him to clip heels with another horse and stumble badly while nearly unseating jockey John Velazquez. New York stewards June 15 handed a seven-day suspension to jockey Rajiv Maragh for careless riding for initiating the incident.

Maragh was riding Isn't He Perfect, who appeared to come over on Mucho Macho Man right after the break, which caused the chain reaction that led to Animal Kingdom's near fall.

"It's not a major thing," Bramlage said. "I agree with Dr. Richardson that the best course of action is to keep the colt inactive for two weeks and radiograph the leg again. In two weeks it should settle down and he should be sound again. I don't think it is going to separate, but that would be the worry.

"Right now it is a tiny crack, and technically you could call it a fracture. But I would characterize it as more of a fissure because of how small it is. He lit up pretty good on the nuclear scan. Normally, no matter how hard a horse hits his leg on the ground in an accident, there is not enough force to show this type of uptake on the scan for a period of at least 10 days.

"This tells me that, like a lot of racehorses, he probably had a little something going on in there that he was dealing with. But when he hit the ground with such force in the accident, he overloaded the bone and this is the result.

"The good news is that this should not cost him the entire season. I would hope that he would be able to return to training in a matter of weeks."

Animal Kingdom was observed by trainer Graham Motion to be stiff the day following the Belmont and was marginally lame for a couple of days in his left hind leg, which prompted sending him to the veterinary clinic in Kennett Square, Pa.

Irwin said Animal Kingdom will remain at Fair Hill Training Center during his recovery. All things considered, he said he feels fortunate the injury was not more serious.

"I'm very relieved," Irwin said. "When Dr. Richardson called Graham after the scan and explained the possibilities of what might be wrong, and then to hear the eventuality of what the injury actually was, it was so much better. I feel like we dodged a bullet."

Animal Kingdom, by Leroidesanimaux out of the Acatenango mare Dalicia, is 3-3-0 from seven starts with earnings of $1,938,700. In addition to the Kentucky Derby, he won the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park and was runner-up in the Preakness Stakes.

Update on Kentucky Derby runner-up, Nehro:
Surgery to repair a small chip in the right front ankle of Nehro, runner-up in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, went "extremely well" and the colt could recover in time for the Breeders' Cup Classic, according to owner Ahmed Zayat.

Zayat, who campaigns the son of Mineshaft in the colors of his Zayat Stables, said the June 15 surgery performed by Dr. Larry Bramlage at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital near Lexington was simpler than initially expected because of the minor nature of the injury.

"He came out perfect," Zayat said June 17, noting that the colt was back in his stall at trainer Steve Asmussen's barn at Churchill Downs. He said there are no plans to send Nehro to a farm for recovery.

Zayat said the schedule calls for two weeks of stall rest followed by three weeks of being hand-walked. After that, Nehro can resume training, with plans for one or two races leading up to the Nov. 5 Classic at Churchill Downs. Zayat said the final plan will be determined by Asmussen based on how well the colt is doing.

The injury was detected following Nehro's fourth-place finish in the June 11 Belmont Stakes. Zayat has previously said he hopes to campaign Nehro as a 4-year-old.

About the Author

Jason Shandler

Jason Shandler is a staff writer for The Blood-Horse magazine.

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