Bad Foot Knocks Hoppertunity from Kentucky Derby

Bad Foot Knocks Hoppertunity from Kentucky Derby


Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

An injured left front foot will keep Hoppertunity from competing in this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, taking place Saturday (May 3) at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

Trainer Bob Baffert announced at about 9 a.m. today (May 1) that the and 6-1 second-choice on the Derby morning-line would be scratched. Baffert said he believes Hoppertunity has a bruised foot but he wants to make 100% sure that is the only issue.

"We're pretty sure it's the foot but we just want to make sure that it's nothing else, so we can continue on with him for the Preakness (Stakes)," Baffert said. "The timing is obviously horrible because we don't have enough time to work on the foot.

"Yesterday when he came out, he took a couple of steps that looked like something was bothering him," Baffert said. "So we took a hoof tester and we saw his inside quarter was sore. We cut part of the shoe off. This was after he trained. I schooled him in the afternoon and after that we had the vet look at him. We jogged him up and down the pavement and he was fine. I jog all my horses in the morning. When we brought him out this morning he was still a little bit off on that left front foot. He was warming up on it but I knew that if he was still like that tomorrow..."

Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman's Hoppertunity will be shipped Thursday afternoon to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., where he will receive a precautionary full examination from Larry Bramlage, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS.

"This is part of the business you don't like, but they're athletes and these things happen," Pegram said. "This happens a lot, but this just happened in the Kentucky Derby. You don't get that many shots. That's the reason you never apologize when you win. I'm just lucky to have partners like Paul and Karl who are gentlemen and take it in stride. I can tell you we may have a happy face but we're dying inside."

Baffert said the Kentucky-bred son of Any Given Saturday will be examined tonight and results will be available May 2.

Hoppertunity worked four furlongs in :48 on April 28 at Churchill Downs. Baffert said it's possible that the off track contributed to the foot issue.

"We were sort of forced to work on a wet track and it's tough because these can come up and bite you," he said. "The horse is okay, he was just not 100% this morning. It's too close to the race so I pulled the plug.

"It hasn't really set in yet," said Baffert, trainer of three Derby winners. "Now we have to get him right. I'm disappointed for the owners. They're all here and were looking forward to a big race."

The scratch brings the Kentucky Derby's recently added also-eligible list into play for the first time. But, as of 9:45 a.m. Thursday morning, trainer Wesley Ward had not decided if also-eligible Pablo Del Monte would run. Ward, a co-owner of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes third-place finisher, said he will meet with the other owners Susan Magnier, Derrick Smith, and Michael Tabor and make a decision.

Ward, reached in Florida, said he had concerns about starting the horse from post 20 but said it would be a dream to start the son of Giant's Causeway he bred in Florida. Jockey Jeffrey Sanchez would have the mount if Pablo Del Monte starts.

Hoppertunity was the 6-1 second choice on the morning line for the Derby. Churchill Downs quickly put out a new odds board with oddsmaker Mike Battaglia making Wood Memorial Stakes winner Wicked Strong the 6-1 second choice. Arkansas Derby winner Danza, and Risen Star Stakes winner Intense Holiday, both trained by Todd Pletcher, are the co-third choices at 8-1. Pablo Del Monte is at 50-1.

Evan Hammonds contributed to this story.

Originally published on

About the Author

Frank Angst

Frank Angst is a staff writer for The Blood-Horse magazine. An American Horse Publications three-time winner in best news story category, Angst has covered horse racing for more than a decade. Angst spent ten years at Thoroughbred Times, where he earned awards as that magazine’s senior writer and helped launch Thoroughbred Times TODAY. Besides covering horse racing, Angst enjoys handicapping. Angst has written about sports for more than 20 years, including several seasons covering a nationally ranked Marshall Thundering Herd football team.

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