Lawyer Ron may be forced to abstain from Preakness challenge.

Lawyer Ron may be forced to abstain from Preakness challenge.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Ankle Injury May Keep Lawyer Ron Out of Preakness

By Richard Rosenblatt
AP Racing Writer

Lawyer Ron has a slight ankle injury and is unlikely to challenge Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro in the Preakness trainer Bob Holthus announced Tuesday at Churchill Downs.

"Looks like we probably aren't going to come," trainer Bob Holthus said Tuesday from Churchill Downs, where Lawyer Ron finished a disappointing 12th in Saturday's Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

"We looked at the X-rays and saw some inflammation in the right hind ankle. Unless something good happens before Saturday, it doesn't look favorable."

That's one less opponent undefeated Barbaro has to deal with in the 1 3/16th-mile Preakness (gr. I), the second leg of racing's Triple Crown.

Lawyer Ron came into the Derby with a six-race winning streak, including a victory in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II). A majority interest in the colt was sold for an undisclosed price two days before the Derby.

Meanwhile, Barbaro was back home at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. The Derby winner returned to the center Monday after a 12-hour van ride from Louisville.

On Tuesday, Barbaro was hand-walked for about 30 minutes and then grazed for another half hour.

A small field of about seven or eight 3-year-olds seems to be shaping up for the Preakness.

High Finance was thrown into the mix Tuesday. Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, High Finance won an allowance at Belmont Park last Thursday and would be running in his first stakes race.

"We'll wait to see how things unravel in the next couple days, which will give us a better idea," High Finance trainer Rick Violette said.

Brother Derek, who finished in a dead heat for fourth in the Derby, and seventh-place finisher Sweetnorthernsaint will be among the field trying to knock off Barbaro.

Also likely are Gotham Stakes (gr. II) winner Like Now and Withers Stakes (gr. II) winner Bernardini. Simon Pure, fourth in the Arkansas Derby, remains under consideration.

Dan Hendricks, who trains Brother Derek, believes a smaller field will help his Santa Anita Derby winner, who left from the No. 18 post in a 20-horse field and never got rolling.

"I don't want to insinuate that the horses that beat us aren't as good, but I feel it will be a truer race," Hendricks said from Churchill Downs. "I will not be going nine-wide in the stretch and have the adversity that you have in a 20-horse field. Same goes for Sweetnorthernsaint, which makes for a great race."

To purchase photos of Barbaro from this year's Kentucky Derby, click here.