Polaris Stable's Preemptive Strike, the likely pacesetter and one of the three main contenders in Saturday's Breeders' Cup Steeplechase (NSA-I) at the Far Hills Races in Far Hills, N.J., was scratched Friday with a foot abscess.
Trainer Paul Rowland said the relatively minor injury to the horse's left front hoof came about last weekend. Preemptive Strike responded to treatment this week, but new shoes put on in advance of the race aggravated the problem and made scratching the only option.
"We soaked it and I've been swimming him to keep him off the foot this week," said the Pennsylvania-based Rowland. "We thought we could get it right in time, but we can't. He'll be fine, he'll probably come sound by Monday. We're just going to come a couple of days short and I don't think they'll push back the race for me."
Preemptive Strike won the Somerset Medical Center Stakes (NSA-II) three weeks ago at the Meadowlands, and carried a solid chance of winning his first grade I in the Breeders' Cup. He would have likely gone to the front and proven difficult to catch. The Maryland-bred son of Roanoke will instead aim for the Colonial Cup (NSA-I) Nov. 26 in Camden, S.C.
The defection leaves a field of just five for the $200,000 Breeders' Cup, and casts the pacesetting chores in doubt. Relative longshots Mon Villez and Three Carat are potential candidates as is the race's second choice McDynamo. Hirapour and Understood usually come from off the pace.
The starting field (with trainer, jockey) in post position order: Mon Villez (Bruce Miller, Chip Miller), Three Carat (Jonathan Sheppard, Danielle Hodsdon), Understood (Richard Valentine, Xavier Aizpuru), McDynamo (Sanna Hendriks, Jody Petty), Hirapour (Doug Fout, Matt McCarron).