John Oxley's Grade II winner Beethoven will miss Saturday's Grade I Florida Derby, and his status for the Kentucky Derby is also in jeopardy because of an injury to his left front leg.
Trainer John Ward said Wednesday he noticed "a small amount of heat" in the leg late Tuesday afternoon, and a subsequent ultrasound showed the son of Sky Mesa has what is believed to be a soft tissue injury.
"It's not major, but it's enough to preclude him from running in the Florida Derby and, as conservative as we are, I would tend to say, yes, (he would miss the Kentucky Derby)," Ward said by phone from Florida. "It's still a little early to say for sure, something like this you have to watch for a day or so. But it's something you definitely don't want to make any worse and ruin the horse."
Ward added that a good recovery could have Beethoven back in the entry box "in 60 days" but that there would be no rushing the bay colt.
"We're just going to take some time and watch him because you don't know the severity of it yet if it's a bruise or something," Ward said. "But we're certainly not going to eliminate him for the year. He'll be on the sidelines getting 100 percent healthy while the rest of them are beating the heck out of each other."
Beethoven stamped himself as a Derby contender when he won the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes over 11⁄16 miles at Churchill Downs last November
He was fourth in his 3-year-old debut in the Grade III Holy Bull Stakes and was coming off a third-place finish behind Quality Road in the Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 28.