M M G Stables' Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) hopeful El Areeb will miss his scheduled start in the Wood Memorial (G2) as well as the Derby because of a bone chip in his right front knee, trainer Cal Lynch said March 30.
The trainer discovered the Jerome (G3) and Withers (G3) stakes winner was off late March 29, after he logged a half-mile workout in :51 3/5 at Laurel Park earlier in the day.
"Last night we were looking at him and he had some heat in his knee," Lynch said. "We took some pictures this morning, saw the problem, and sent them to (our veterinarian)."
Lynch said the Exchange Rate colt, who is ranked 12th on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, will undergo surgery April 3 to address his injury. El Areeb is expected to return to training in "a couple of months," according to Lynch.
"It's not career ending, but it's definitely a setback," Lynch said. "It could always be a lot worse. We'll get him fixed right and do the right thing by him. It's not a phone call you like to make, obviously, but the owners took it well."
El Areeb took a step back in his last start, when he tired to finish third in the Gotham Stakes (G3) after setting a quick pace, but Lynch was hopeful for an improved run in the April 8 Wood.
"We were hoping for some vindication in the Wood," he said. "We were hoping for him to run a different pace scenario and showed that he belonged."