Morning line favorite The Pamplemousse was scratched from the Santa Anita Derby early on the morning of the race April 4 by trainer Julio Canani after a state veterinarian check turned up a possible physical problem that needed further examination.
That's the word from Dr. Rick Arthur, the California Horse Racing Board's equine medical director.
Co-owner Alex Solis II said later that a soft-tissue issue necessitated the scratch.
"The tendon had a little heat and as a result, Julio decided to scratch him. We'll scan the tendon and evaluate it and go from there," he said. "We're not going to take any chances with him."
Arthur said that Dr. Jill Bailey, in examining The Pamplemousse, "pointed out an issue to Julio, who had his veterinarian, Dr. Helmuth von Bluecher, take a look.
"They determined that there were further diagnostics to do but that it would not be possible to do what was necessary before the race, so they decided to scratch the horse," Arthur said.
He said that Canani is still pointing The Pamplemousse to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
“Julio erred on the side of the horse, which they should have done, and in line with the type of horseman he is,” Arthur said. “He’s obviously terribly, terribly disappointed, as is everyone. We’ve been in this game long enough to know the Derby trail breaks a lot of hearts.”
Bailey examined The Pamplemousse about 7 a.m. and Canani’s vet arrived at the barn about 2 1/2 hours later. The colt was sent out to the track to loosen up and then examined again.
“Julio understands what Dr. Bailey’s concern was, and when it was pointed out to him, he became concerned as well,” Arthur said.
Canani could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Pamplemousse, winer of the San Rafael (gr. III) and Sham (gr. III) stakes this season, was the 9-5 early line choice for the Santa Anita Derby.
If the son of Kafwain does not race again prior to the May 2 Derby, he would have $180,000 in graded stakes earnings.
Horses can be scratched from a stakes race until an hour before post time without explanation in what’s known as a stakes scratch. Arthur said The Pamplemousse was not a vet scratch, which would require the issue to be disclosed. The colt wasn’t placed on the vet’s list, which requires an exam before he could race again.
Solis said The Pamplemousse might ship to Kentucky for the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) on April 11.
The Pamplemousse was scheduled to be ridden by Solis’ father, Alex, who will now ride trainer Todd Pletcher’s entry Take the Points.
The scratch denied fans the chance to see a showdown between The Pamplemousse and Pioneerof the Nile, the West Coast’s best 3-year-olds. Both horses own three-race winning streaks.
Cape Truth also was scratched, leaving an eight-horse field for the 1 1-8-mile race. The morning-line was redone after the scratches, with Pioneerof the Nile installed the 6-5 favorite and Chocolate Candy the 7-2 second choice.