- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 4, 2009

ARCADIA, CALIF. (AP) - The Pamplemousse was scratched hours before the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday because of an ailing leg, spoiling an expected showdown with Pioneerof the Nile, the West Coast’s other top 3-year-old.

The 9-5 morning-line favorite was scratched nearly five hours before Saturday’s $750,000 prep for the Kentucky Derby.

Alex Solis II, one of The Pamplemousse’s co-owners, said there was concern about the soft tissue in one leg. He did not say which one.

“The tendon had a little heat and as a result, Julio decided to scratch him,” Solis said. “We’ll scan the tendon and evaluate it and go from there. We’re not going to take any chances with him.”

Dr. Rick Arthur, chief veterinarian for the California Horse Racing Board, said a pre-race exam of The Pamplemousse by another vet turned up the tendon issue that was brought to trainer Julio Canani’s attention. Canani then had his own vet look at the colt and further tests are scheduled.

But there wasn’t enough time to complete the tests before post time at 2:45 p.m. PDT.

“Julio erred on the side of the horse, which they should have done, and in line with the type of horseman he is,” Arthur said. “He’s obviously terribly, terribly disappointed, as is everyone. We’ve been in this game long enough to know the Derby trail breaks a lot of hearts.”

The Pamplemousse and Pioneerof the Nile had been set to race each other in a highly anticipated first meeting. Both horses had three-race winning streaks.

Cape Truth and Z Day, the race’s expected pacesetter, also were scratched, leaving a seven-horse field for the 1 1-8-mile race. The morning-line was redone after the scratches, with Pioneerof the Nile installed the 6-5 favorite and Chocolate Candy the 7-2 second choice.

Dr. Jill Bailey, a track vet, examined The Pamplemousse about 7 a.m. and Canani’s vet arrived at the barn about 2 1/2 hours later. The colt was sent out to the track to train and then examined again.

“Julio understands what Dr. Bailey’s concern was, and when it was pointed out to him, he became concerned as well,” Arthur said.

Horses can be scratched from a stakes race until an hour before post time without explanation in what’s known as a stakes scratch. Arthur noted The Pamplemousse was not a vet scratch. The colt wasn’t placed on the vet’s list, which requires an exam before he could race again.

Solis said The Pamplemousse might ship to Kentucky for the Blue Grass Stakes on April 11, in what would be his final prep before the May 2 Kentucky Derby.

The Pamplemousse was scheduled to be ridden by Solis’ father, Alex, who later switched to trainer Todd Pletcher’s entry Take the Points.

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