During last year's Triple Crown series, no one horse had as much trouble during the running of the races as Dollar Bill. This year's hard-luck Triple Crown nominee may be One Tuff Fox, who can't seem to make it to the starting gate for a prep race.
Last Saturday, the Richard Dutrow Jr. trainee was scratched from the Illinois Derby (gr. II) for violating an Illinois medication rule. Dutrow then opted for this Saturday's Arkansas Derby (gr. II), supplementing the son of Foxhound to the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Derby (gr. I) prep for $25,000. The Italo-Erin Stable's runner won't even make it to Arkansas, though, as Dutrow couldn't arrange transportation to Hot Springs.
"Obviously, we had every intention of sending One Tuff Fox to the Arkansas Derby, but we couldn't make travel arrangements," Dutrow said Wednesday morning from Belmont Park. "I called everybody I know who has a plane, but couldn't get one. And it would have been too long a van ride (from Chicago)."
Dutrow now moves ahead with plan C -- the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) April 20 at Keeneland. The 1 1/16-mile Lexington, however, will not serve as a Derby prep for One Tuff Fox, according to Dutrow.
"If he runs well there, we'll take a look at the Preakness (gr. I)," the conditioner said. "The (Kentucky) Derby is definitely out."
The $25,000 check to become eligible to enter the Arkansas Derby (which an Oaklawn Park release says will go uncashed) wasn't the first supplemental fee paid on behalf of One Tuff Fox's quest at the spring classics. His connections previously paid a $6,000 fee to make their horse eligible to the May 4 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), May 18 Preakness (gr. I), and June 8 Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Even making One Tuff Fox a late nominee to the Triple Crown races nearly went awry. The late nominations closed March 30 at midnight; One Tough Fox's nomination wasn't found until the morning of April 2 as the New York Racing Association's racing office was closed for two day's due to the Easter holiday.
One Tuff Fox has won two of three career starts, including a Fair Grounds allowance race on March 4. He was scratched from the Illinois Derby an hour before the race for failure to comply with Illinois Lasix rules.