Autism Awareness, 62-1 winner of Bay Meadows’ El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) March 8, is off the Triple Crown trail with an injured left foreleg.
"He has a bone chip in his left front knee," said trainer Genaro Vallejo in updating the situation March 12. "The knee was warm so we took X-rays and found the chip. He'll have surgery Friday (to remove the chip)."
Vallejo said the operation will be performed at the equine hospital at Golden Gate Fields, where Vallejo has his stable.
"He'll stay in my barn after the surgery," said Vallejo. "He'll stay with me for three weeks and then I'll send him out to the farm. He'll probably be out for four months. We'll give him all the time he needs and hopefully he comes back better than ever."
The California-bred Tannersmyman colt, purchased at auction n Northern California for $1,000 in September 2006, sprung a shocking $126 upset over eight other 3-year-olds in the 1 1/16-mile event.
Autism Awareness is owned by Johnny Taboada, who gave the colt his name to promote awareness of the developmental disability that affects children. Taboada's son, Renzo, has autism.
“The good and the bad all came at the same time,” Taboada said. “Maybe it’s a good thing in the long run; you never can tell. You can only say so much, these things happen.”
Taboada said veterinarians believe the injury occurred during the running of the El Camino, which Autism Awareness won by 1 1/2 lengths in a powerful move up the center of the track.
Autism Awareness is one of three named foals from the Sharp Victor mare Lady Essex.