By Claire Novak and Ron Mitchell
Ron the Greek, dominant winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) in his most recent start for trainer Bill Mott, has developed a quarter crack in his right front hoof and will miss the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park.
Mott told reporters of the setback on the morning of Oct. 31, saying the foot developed an abscess a day earlier.
"Ron the Greek's out; he's got a quarter crack," the Hall of Fame conditioner said. "Long-term it's not a problem, but he's not going to run in the Classic."
The 6-year-old Florida-bred son of Full Mandate delivered his definitive performance in the Gold Cup Sept. 28, driving clear by 6 3/4 lengths in the 1 1/4-mile test over Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Palace Malice and multiple grade I winner Flat Out .
"That horse had been doing fine; he never had foot issues before in his life," he said. "He had a strong gallop (Wednesday) and he must have just bumped the heel of his foot wrong and he got an abscess in the bulb of his heel. We soaked him and it opened up and relieved some of the pressure later, but he was still sore on it (Thursday) morning and I just made the determination we couldn't have him good enough to run Saturday."
Mott said the injury is minor and that a patch will be put on in about 13-14 days, after which he will be able to resume training.
"But now, there's no short cut when the foot is traumatized like that, and you've got the swelling in there," he said. "Even though the abscess has broken up, you still have inflammation in that foot. It's still tender, like touching a boil."
Racing for Brous Stable, Wachtel Stable, breeder Jack Hammer and Gary Barber, Ron the Greek has amassed earnings of more than $2.7 million and victories in three grade I stakes—the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Stephen Foster Handicap, and the Santa Anita Handicap.
Mott said Ron the Greek will return to his winter base in Florida while the owners make a determination of whether he will remain in training next year.
"He's just such a fun horse to be around, because he always gives you a good effort," Mott said. "When you take him over there, ordinarily he's going to pick up a big check for you. Those kinds of horses, you've got to love them because they show up every time for you."