Injury knocks undefeated Constitution off Triple Crown trail

awincze@herald-leader.comApril 16, 2014 

Florida Derby winner Constitution is off the Triple Crown trail because of an injury. (Bob Coglianese photo)

Constitution, winner of last month's $1 million Florida Derby, will miss the Kentucky Derby and the rest of the 2014 Triple Crown season after X-rays showed a hairline fracture in his front right cannon bone Monday.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, the undefeated son of leading sire Tapit breezed a half-mile in 503⁄5 seconds on Sunday at Palm Meadows training track, and on Monday morning he was found to be a little off in his right front leg.

The defection of Constitution means that Gotham and Withers Stakes runner-up Uncle Sigh moves into the 20th and final spot in the Kentucky Derby points standings, which determines the field for the first leg of the Triple Crown.

Constitution was tied for fifth place in the Derby standings with 100 points.

"This is one of the biggest disappointments of my career," Pletcher said. "I really feel Constitution was our biggest chance to win the Kentucky Derby since Super Saver (in 2010). My routine with all my horses is to jog them down the road, and I noticed he was slightly off (Monday). ... Thankfully, it's nothing very serious, and Constitution will be back to 100 percent after a little time. The timing is just a real shame for everyone involved, but the Derby doesn't define a horse's career."

Constitution will be shipped to WinStar Farm to rehabilitate, with the hopes of returning to training in 60 days and racing again in 2014. The bay colt is owned by WinStar Farm and Twin Creeks Racing Stables.

"While we are extremely disappointed to miss the Kentucky Derby, we're just as excited about the future of Constitution," said Randy Gullatt, Twin Creeks Racing's general manager. "We think he's just scratching the surface of his talent."

Added WinStar President and CEO Elliott Walden: "Todd has done a tremendous job with Constitution and I can't wait to get him back for two reasons: firstly, he has so much to accomplish, and secondly, he is the most exciting stallion prospect of his generation."

Unraced as a juvenile, Constitution made his career debut at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 11, breaking his maiden first time out by a length going 7 furlongs on the main track. He followed that up with a front-running victory against a stakes-quality field in a 11⁄16-mile allowance race there on Feb. 22 before outfighting multiple graded stakes winner Wildcat Red in deep stretch to win the 11⁄8-mile, Grade I Florida Derby by a neck.

Out of the Distorted Humor mare Baffled, he has earnings of $649,350 to date.

Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com. Twitter: @horseracinghl.

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