Whether graded stakes winner Sky Mesa races again is likely to be determined within the next several days, trainer John T. Ward Jr. said.
The 3-year-old Pulpit colt owned by John Oxley is scheduled to be retired at the end of the season to stand at Robert Clay's Three Chimneys Farm. Ward had hoped that a late-season campaign would include a start in the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita.
Sky Mesa bruised his left front hoof while running last in the Travers (gr. I) on Aug. 23 at Saratoga, an injury that has interrupted his training and could send him into retirement a couple of months earlier than expected. Ward said that Dr. Larry Bramlage diagnosed the start of a wall separation with a buildup of fluid on the inside portion of the hoof in early September.
The foot was soaked every day and the horse's exercise was limited to being hand walked. The shoe was replaced and he returned to the track this week.
"He's back galloping," Ward said. "We're approaching a work and after a work approaching a decision about what his future is going to be.
"What we're looking at is the rest of the racing season into the Breeders' Cup, how much time has he lost and you're dealing with something that might still be sensitive.
"The last thing we want to do is cheapen the animal or put the animal at a disadvantage because of timing. We're going to have to do some soul-searching in about the next week."
Ward said Sky Mesa's first breeze since before the Travers could come as early as this weekend.
"We'll see how the work is," he said. "We'll see how the foot is, if that foot gets sensitive on us again. That foot has got to hit the ground one out of every four times. We just have to see where we are."
Sky Mesa won his first three starts as a 2-year-old, including the Hopeful (gr. I) and was the morning line favorite for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). He was scratched the morning before the race when Ward detected some filling in an ankle. Sky Mesa missed the Triple Crown series with a heel injury and did make his first start as a 3-year-old until July 6 when he finished third in the Dwyer (gr. II). He finished second in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth and was considered a top contender for the Travers.