LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Haikal, the Grade 3 Gotham winner and third-place finisher in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial, will scratch from Saturday’s $3 million Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs due to an abscess on his left front foot, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Friday morning.
Haikal joins morning-line favorite Omaha Beach as horses that were scratched from the Derby after entries were made on Tuesday. Barring any additional scratches, the Derby will go with a field of 19. The rail post will be left open and horses will be loaded in post positions 2 through 20. Haikal and Omaha Beach had drawn posts 11 and 12.
The abscess was first detected on Wednesday. Haikal was tubbed with hot water and Epsom salts to try and resolve it. He did not train on Thursday.
On Friday morning, a blacksmith reshod Haikal’s left front foot. Haikal jogged on the road for a few strides, but he was noticeably off, according to McLaughlin, and did not train over the sloppy track.
“He’s just not right and the situation’s not right,” McLaughlin said. “The horse comes first and we’ll send him right home to Lexington today. His issues aren’t resolved.”
McLaughlin said Haikal would be shipped to Shadwell Farm in Lexington, Ky., and “he’ll be there for awhile.”
“Let’s go over him and get him sound and see what’s up,” he said. “The sad thing is he’s never missed a day of training until yesterday.”
Though Haikal was listed as 30-1 on the morning line, McLaughlin said the horse deserved a chance to run in the Derby.
“It’s very disappointing for all of our team and Shadwell, and he’s a homebred and it’s a neat story,” McLaughlin said. “Hopefully, we’ll have some success later in the year.”
While McLaughlin did not specify any races, one logical target for Haikal would be the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens on at Saratoga on Aug. 24. That race is at seven furlongs around one turn. Haikal is 3 for 4 in one-turn races, including victories in the Jimmy Winkfield at seven furlongs and Gotham at a mile.
In a bit of a quirky stat, Haikal is the third third-place finisher from the Wood in the last nine years to scratch from the Derby after entries were made. Uncle Mo (2011) and El Kabeir (2015) were the others.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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