The #2 favorite in online Kentucky Derby betting at the time, Hoppertunity, has been forced to withdraw from the race due to a foot injury. Trainer Bob Baffert made the announcement on Thursday morning. Baffert indicated that the horse ‘looked off’ when he was jogging on Wednesday and after seeing the same thing on Thursday morning decided to pull the horse from the race as a precautionary measure. The hope is that it’s a foot bruise but Hoppertunity will get a veterinary exam just to make sure.
Baffert described the situation to the media on Thursday morning:
“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. 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. 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…”
Baffert said that the bad weather and muddy surface at Churchill Downs this week could have contributed to Hoppertunity’s ailment:
“We were sort of forced to work on a wet track and it’s tough because these can come up and bite you. 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. 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.”
Hoppertunity’s withdrawal allows ‘also eligible’ Pablo Del Monte into the race.