By Steve Haskin and Ron Mitchell
James McIngvale's Wimbledon is out of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), it was announced Friday morning by trainer Bob Baffert. It leaves Baffert without a Derby starter for the first time since 1996.
Baffert said swelling was detected on the outside of the left front tendon when stable personnel removed bandages from the colt Friday morning. "I think he might have rapped it while galloping Thursday," Baffert said. "He is not lame but when you palpate it, it bugs him."
The trainer said the colt was jogged Friday morning and that the problem did not appear to be serious. "These things sometimes may not be that bad. I don't think it's a career ending injury, but it's enough that we don't feel comfortable about taking him out there and running him this weekend. We don't know the extent of the injury and we won't know until later this afternoon."
Baffert, who said ultrasound and other tests will be performed to determine the exact nature of the problem, was obviously disappointed.
"This is the part of the business that really hurts," he said. "You work so hard to get here and spend so much money and then something like this happens. I really feel bad for the McIngvale family. They were looking forward to being a part of this."
Wimbledon, winner of the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) on March 7 was heading into the Derby off a fifth-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I). The Kentucky-bred son of Wild Rush--Strawberry Clover, by Darn That Alarm, has a 2-3-0 slate from seven starts and has earned $430,980.
The leggy gray colt had flourished at Churchill Downs as he prepared for the Derby, firing off a bullet :59 2/5 five furlongs in the slop last Sunday morning. He had looked impressive on the track in his morning gallops.
Baffert is a three-time winner of the Derby with back-to-back victories with Silver Charm and Real Quiet in 1996-97. He also won the 2002 running with War Emblem. All three horses bid, but failed to win the Visa Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) after taking the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
Two-time winning jockey Jerry Bailey is currently without a mount in the Derby.
Wimbledon had drawn post five for the 20-horse Derby field. Acting state steward Ted Hill said in light of the scratch, the horses in posts one through four would move out one spot. Those in posts six through 20 are unaffected.