Win Willy, winner of the March 14 Rebel Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park, was declared out of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) by trainer Mac Robertson the morning of April 29, hours before entries were to be taken for the May 2 race at Churchill Downs.
Robertson said an X-ray taken Tuesday revealed a “line” in the left front ankle. To err on the side of caution, the connections decided not to enter the son of 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos in the Derby but to give him some time off. It is by no means a career-ending injury and in fact, the colt galloped a mile over the muddy Churchill Downs track before the decision was made.
“He’s not sore,” Robertson said outside Barn 45. “He went to the track today and I jogged him a mile. The vets came this morning with the X-rays and there was something a little suspicious. If it is a small fracture, it’s not displaced. You can barely see it on one view. You can barely see a line from the ankle to the pastern.
“It may the start of something; it might be something he’s had since he was a yearling,” he said. “I’d never X-rayed his ankles. I’ve X-rayed his knees, but never his ankles.”
In his final Derby workout Monday, the colt got the five furlongs in 1:02 2/5.
The trainer said he decided to have the X-rays taken because of the possibility there was a problem. Robertson said he was not disappointed that Win Willy will not make the Derby field, noting “the horse is more important.
“Going a mile and a quarter against those kind of horses when there might be something there? I’m not going to do that to the horse,” Robertson said.
“I’ll keep him here and pull his shoes and let him walk 30 days. If it is the start of a fracture, I don’t want him running around. In 60 days we’ll X-ray him and see if it’s healing or doing the same. If it’s the same, then he’s probably had it. If it’s healing, it’s probably something he did in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) or his work here.”
Trained by Robertson for the Jer-Mar Stable of Jerome and Marlene Myers, Win Willy was purchased for $25,000 at the 2007 Keeneland September yearling sale.
After winning two of his first three starts, Win Willy posted a huge upset over then-Derby favorite Old Fashioned when he took the Rebel by 2 1/4 lengths at odds of 57-1. He subsequently finished fourth in Papa Clem’s Arkansas Derby (gr. II) victory.
Out of the Carson City mare City Fair, Win Willy was bred in Kentucky by Overbrook Farm.
“He’s a beautiful horse,” Robertson said. “When he gets a break, he’ll get a little wider because basically he’s been going for a long time between 14-15 months. You take a horse like this and give him a break, who knows?”