Kentucky Derby wide open after favourite injured
Monday 26 April 2010
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.
*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.
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)
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
Latest in Sport
- 2 Scottish independence: What you shouldn't tweet about if you want to avoid jail today
- 3 Scottish independence: Five reasons Salmond is secretly hoping for a 'No' vote
- 4 Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
- 5 Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...
£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...
£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...