Kentucky Derby wide open after favourite injured

if the Classic scene rumblings and tremors came at Longchamp yesterday, the full-scale eruption was on the other side of the Atlantic. Eskendereya, red-hot ante-post favourite for Saturday's Kentucky Derby after effortless wide-margin victories in his two races this year, was announced a non-runner during the morning by trainer Todd Pletcher. The colt, as short as 13-8 in some betting lists, has sustained an injury to his left foreleg and his enforced absence now throws America's most famous race wide open.

Though Pletcher has six other entries for the 136th Run For The Roses in his barn, Eskendereya, winner of the Fountain of Youth and Wood Memorial Stakes by an aggregate 18 1/4 lengths, was considered by far his best chance of ending an 0-for-24 sequence in the Churchill Downs showpiece. Though the son of Giant's Causeway exercised at the Louisville track on Saturday, he missed an early session of strong work with his stablemates yesterday, after which Pletcher confirmed his worst fears.

"I'd thought he was a bit off on Saturday," he said, "and noticed a bit of filling in the leg. We were kind of hoping for a miracle overnight but we didn't get it."

Eskendereya's problem is not thought to be career-threatening but is a blow not only to his trainer but to financially-troubled owner Ahmed Zayat. "It's the worst kind of timing," added Pletcher, "and it's a tough one all round. He's not lame, not in discomfort but he's too special a horse to take any chances with. The phone call to the owner was not one I wanted to make but he took it better than I would have."

Pletcher still has the colts Mission Impazible, Rule, Discreetly Mine, Super Saver and Interactif and the filly Devil May Care in the $2m race. Santa Anita Derby, Sidney's Candy and Lookin At Lucky are now jostling for favouritism.

Sheikh Mohammed has not this year mustered a candidate for the one Derby he covets most for his global Godolphin empire's honours board, but things are moving on the European front; two days after Newmarket-based Chabal established himself as a credible contender for the original at Epsom by winning a trial at Sandown, Simon de Montfort followed suit at Longchamp with the Prix du Jockey-Club at Chantilly in view.

The son of King's Best, in the charge of Andre Fabre, pounced late and decisively in the Prix La Force, confirming his recent superiority over Pain Perdu by a neck, with Paul Cole-trained Circumvent, the day's sole British raider, three-quarters of a length third in a typical French sprint blanket finish.

Half an hour earlier, in the Prix de la Grotte, the colt's stablemate Anna Salai instigated a double in the Godolphin team's all-gold strip, quickening impressively from last to first to put clear air between herself and Gotlandia, with last year's best French juvenile filly Rosanara only third. It was a first success for the daughter of Dubawi, who will now head for the 1,000 Guineas over the same course and distance next month.

The equivalent prep for colts, the Prix de Fontainbleau, resulted, as expected, in a victory for trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre and owner the Aga Khan, but not exactly the one predicted as odds-on Siyouni was turned over by his own pacemaker Rajsaman, a 25-1 shot.

Thierry Jarnet, on Rajsaman, did his job well, turning into the straight with a clear lead. It was hardly his fault that Siyouni, with Gerald Mosse on board, had run a little fresh, became trapped behind horses and then caught slightly flat-footed as the pace quickened.

The favourite flew once he hit his stride and did his French 2,000 Guineas prospects no harm at all, but this time failed by half a length to catch his hare. Local punters, though, would not be discomfited as horses in the same ownership are considered one in pari-mutuel betting.

Turf account

*Sue Montgomery's Nap

Our Boy Barrington (7.40)

Off the mark when stepped up to a mile nine days ago. His in-form stable's first string today on jockey bookings.



Next best

Dancing Dude (3.40 Newcastle)

Big backward type but the penny should drop today, albeit at a pros-only price.



*One to watch

Swilly Ferry (BW Hills) ran into a traffic jam when fifth on seasonal debut at HQ.



*Where the money's going

Hamdan al Maktoum's Habaayib cut to 20-1 for 1,000 Guineas by Paddy Power.



*Chris McGrath's Nap

Nimue (3.10 Newcastle)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back