Too often, simply getting a horse to the Kentucky Derby is as much a battle of attrition as it is a balancing act of talent, luck and timing.
For the second straight week, one of the brightest stars on the Derby trail has come out on the short end of that fight.
Rick Porter's Grade II winner Old Fashioned is out of the Triple Crown and likely to be retired after sustaining a non-displaced slab fracture of his right, front knee during his runner-up finish in Saturday's Grade II Arkansas Derby.
The loss of Old Fashioned from the Derby picture comes one week after the announcement that multiple graded stakes winner The Pamplemousse would be sidelined indefinitely because of tendon damage.
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Immediately after the Arkansas Derby, trainer Larry Jones spoke of going on to Louisville with Old Fashioned. But the son of Unbridled's Song turned up lame and is slated to ship Monday to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington where he will undergo surgery.
"He's doing well, he's resting comfortably, and he is standing on the leg well," Jones said Sunday morning. "We'll be in touch with Dr. Larry Bramlage, and hopefully he can do the surgery.
"I would think (the injury is career-ending) at this point just because of the caliber of horse he is," Jones continued. "If he were a younger horse who may not have started his career yet and didn't have the reputation on the line that he has, I would think he could come back and race. Horses with that kind of injury sometimes come back, but rarely at the level at which he competed, and ... we don't want to do anything to tarnish his reputation."
Old Fashioned, along with stablemate Friesan Fire, had been part of a 1-2 punch for Jones this season. Old Fashioned captured the Grade II Remsen Stakes by 71/4 lengths as a juvenile and won the Southwest Stakes by 31/4 lengths in his 3-year-old debut on Feb. 16.
Old Fashioned suffered his first career loss when he was defeated by Win Willy in the Rebel Stakes in March and was a game second to Papa Clem in Saturday's Arkansas Derby — his sixth career start — after setting the early pace.
"He's been a very good horse to be around," Jones said. "We're just thankful that he'll be able to live a pain-free life after this and be able to run and buck."