The Wood Memorial jinx claimed another victim: Toby’s Corner was withdrawn from the Kentucky Derby.
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The past three winners of the Wood, a major prep at Aqueduct, never made it to the starting gate for the Derby.
I Want Revenge was scratched on the morning of the 2009 Derby because of an ankle injury. Eskendereya, last year’s Wood winner, developed a swollen leg the week before the race and was retired.
Toby’s Corner was scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Tuesday from trainer Graham Motion’s barn in Maryland. Motion canceled the trip because of a problem with the colt’s left hind leg. Motion sent him to an equine hospital.
The colt underwent a bone scan that yielded no answers. When Toby’s Corner didn’t improve by Tuesday, Motion decided not to send him with four other horses to Louisville for weekend races.
”At this point, there’s nothing obvious that’s causing the lameness,” Motion said. ”We had to make a decision whether he could get on a van for Kentucky this morning, and, obviously, he couldn’t.”
Toby’s Corner made a dramatic run to win the Wood last month, splitting horses in the deep stretch to win by a neck. That victory, coupled with three wins in four races this season, made him one of the top Derby contenders.
Motion still has a horse in the Derby, Animal Kingdom, who won the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park.
At this stage, one contender’s misfortune is another’s opportunity. With Toby’s Corner out, Lexington Stakes winner Derby Kitten moves into the field, which is limited to 20 starters. Entries will be taken Wednesday.
Derby Kitten was 21st on the graded stakes earnings list that determines Derby eligibility. It also gives trainer Mike Maker two Derby runners, with Derby Kitten joining Twinspired in the lineup.
On a cold and rainy day at Churchill Downs, Archarcharch was among the few horses to leave the barn.
His strong gallop so impressed clockers it was considered an official workout: a half-mile in 52 seconds with jockey Jon Court aboard.
Archarcharch won the Arkansas Derby at 25-1 odds and also won the Southwest Stakes, both at Oaklawn Park.
Temperatures were in the 40s Tuesday, but better weather is forecast for the next few days, giving the rain-soaked dirt track an opportunity to dry. Partly sunny skies with highs in the mid-to-upper 60s are predicted for Wednesday through Friday.
The long-range forecast turns ominous for Derby Day on Saturday, with a 50 percent chance of scattered thundershowers and temperatures in the low 70s.
Joyful Victory, runaway winner of Oaklawn Park’s Honeybee and Fantasy Stakes in her past two starts, is the 5-2 favorite in the Kentucky Oaks for 3-year-old fillies on Friday.
Carrying a purse of $1 million for the first time, the Oaks drew a field of 13.
Joyful Victory is on the rail with Hall of Famer Mike Smith set to ride for trainer Larry Jones, who won the 2008 Oaks with Proud Spell.
Joyful Victory, a gray filly, was fifth at Churchill Downs last fall in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
The rest of the Oaks field: Lilacs and Lace, Summer Soiree, Kathmanblu, Suave Voir Faire, Zazu, Her Smile, Bouquet Booth, Daisy Devine, Street Storm, Holy Heavens, Plum Pretty and St. John’s River.
R Heat Lightning, who would have been a prime contender, was scratched Monday because of a knee injury.