Florida Derby winner Constitution will miss the Kentucky Derby–and at least the first half of his three year old campaign–with a small fracture of his front right shin. The announcement was made on Wednesday following an veterinary examination.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said that he noticed something was amiss while working with Constitution earlier this week:
“My routine with all my horses is to jog them down the road, and I noticed he was slightly off.”
Constitution was x-rayed by Dr. Bill Yarborough who confirmed what Pletcher characterized as a “slight hairline in his shin.”. Although he’s disappointed about missing the Derby he’s taking the long view regarding his young horse:
“It’s a minimal injury, we caught it early. He was slightly off, we investigated further, found a bump on his shin, took X-rays, and found a hairline crack. It’s a bummer, but if you look at it philosophically, it might be for the best.”
That being said, Pletcher realizes that Constitution was a serious Derby contender:
“This is one of the biggest disappointments of my career. I really feel Constitution was our biggest chance to win the Kentucky Derby since Super Saver.”
Elliott Walden, President of Constitution’s owner WinStar Farm, added his thoughts:
“Todd has done a tremendous job with Constitution, and I can’t wait to get him back for two reasons. Firstly, he has so much to accomplish, and, secondly, he is the most exciting stallion prospect of his generation.”
Constitution’s exit from the Kentucky Derby field does open up another spot for horses ‘on the bubble’. The top twenty points qualifiers (now minus Constitution) qualify for the Kentucky Derby with two more ‘also entered’ that serve as alternates in case there’s a late injury or scratch on race day. The third ranked horse in the Derby qualification ranking–Dance With Fate–is a polytrack specialist and his connections are leaning against sending him to race on the dirt track at Churchill Downs. There will likely be several other horses withdraw from consideration meaning that the door is still open for any of the horses ranked just below the cutoff line.