Saturday, April 19, 2008

War Pass to miss Derby with Injury

Nick Zito often trains by instinct, and his instincts had been on high alert for the past week with War Pass. After War Pass initially came out of his gutsy runner-up effort in the Wood Memorial on April 5 at Aqueduct in good shape, and then traveled to Kentucky soon thereafter, Zito was not happy with the way War Pass had acted the past week at Churchill Downs. His instincts told him something was amiss, and late Friday he found it.
Zito announced early Saturday morning that X-rays taken Friday afternoon revealed a tiny fracture in a sesamoid bone in the left front leg of War Pass. The fracture, which Zito described as "very small," has very big ramifications. It removes War Pass from the May 3 Kentucky Derby, changes the complexion of the race because of the defection of a key front-runner, and improves the position of everyone on the graded stakes earnings list, since War Pass was ranked first, with $1.47 million.
"It's just been an uphill battle. It's been a tough winter," Zito said from Churchill Downs.
War Pass had a smooth 2-year-old campaign, with four wins in four starts, including a victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile that brought him the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male. This year, though, War Pass had his 3-year-old debut delayed in Florida by a brief bout of colic, beat a soft field in his comeback race at Gulfstream, then finished last in the Tampa Bay Derby before a gut-wrenching effort in the Wood.
"The Wood was very tough on him," Zito said. "I think the injury must have happened in the Wood. He had a few good days when he first got to Kentucky, but then I had to back off on him."
Zito said "there's no question" War Pass can return from this injury and race again. War Pass is owned by Robert LaPenta, but his breeding rights have been sold to Lane's End Farm, where War Pass will stand at stud at the end of his racing career.
"Mr. LaPenta and Lane's End have been extremely supportive," Zito said.
War Pass had surgery on his left front ankle as a 2-year-old, which kept him out of a 2-year-old-in-training sale at which LaPenta had intended to sell him. Zito said that surgery was in a different area from the current injury.
Zito said the length of time War Pass would be off, and other possible treatment, would not be decided until noted surgeon Dr. Larry Bramlage, of the Rood and Riddle clinic in Lexington, Ky., reviewed War Pass's X-rays on Sunday.
Zito still has two candidates for the Derby in Anak Nakal and Cool Coal Man. Julien Leparoux has picked up the mount on Cool Coal Man, replacing Kent Desormeaux, who has opted to ride Big Brown, the current Derby favorite.


Kara C. said...

Woah! Big disappointment for War Pass' connections.

Melanie said...

Nick Zito thinks he's so big!!!

Melanie said...

That's a Kara-ism, for those of you who aren't "in the know." Study up, Chris.