Spring Hill Farm, who finished fourth in the March 10 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II), suffered a right knee fracture and will have surgery at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington March 14.
George Bolton, who co-owns the 3-year-old son of Smart Strike with Stonestreet Stables, confirmed the news March 13. He said the colt will have a screw inserted in his knee by Dr. Larry Bramlage. It will be unknown until after surgery if Spring Hill Farm will return to racing, but Bolton is hopeful.
“It sounds fixable from what they are saying so far, but we will wait until after surgery,” Bolton said. “Hopefully he can return to his old self at some point, maybe next fall.”
A photo of the start of the Tampa Bay Derby revealed that Spring Hill Farm fell to the ground right after the starting gate opened, which is likely where he suffered the injury. Sent off as the 2-1 favorite, he still ran well considering the extent of the injury.
“It was a very courageous run for a horse that suffered that kind of fracture,” Bolton said. “The gates opened when he was in the wrong position, his head was sideways coming out of the gate, and then it swung the other way. He just went down to the ground and probably hurt himself getting up. He probably ran most of the mile and a sixteenth in pain.”
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Spring Hill Farm came into the race undefeated in two starts, both of them this year at Gulfstream Park. Bolton said everyone was expecting big things from him.
“It’s just a shame. He was really training like a good horse, a serious horse, coming into this race,” Bolton said. “He was so right coming into it, so I knew when he ran fourth something was wrong. We just got really unlucky.”
Bred in Virginia by the late Edward P. Evans, Spring Hill Farm is out of the Pleasant Colony mare Colonial Minstrel.