Sky Mesa, in the barn with assistant trainer Patrick Gallagher.

Sky Mesa, in the barn with assistant trainer Patrick Gallagher.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Juvenile Favorite Sky Mesa Scratched Due to Injury

John C. Oxley's Sky Mesa, the 3-1 morning-line favorite for the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), was scratched Friday morning after sustaining an apparent sprain of his right front ankle.

Donna Ward, wife of and assistant to trainer John Ward, said that when they arrived at the barn Friday morning they noticed that the son of Pulpit was uncomfortable. "It just wasn't him," she said.

After removing the leg wraps, some filling was detected in the leg. X-rays showed there were no fractures, said John Ward.

"Hopefully, it is just a bad sprain, or it is wrenched," Ward said. "The best part of it is that there is no evidence of a condylar fracture and initial pictures show no crack."

Dr. Larry Bramlage, the American Association of Equine Practitioners' on-call Breeders' Cup vet, said: "I looked at the horse this morning with John Ward and Dr. (Vincent) Brencick, who is the attending veterinarian. There was some swelling (right fore) just above the ankle joint and he was sore. The X-rays came back negative (for fracture). We'll get him back to the clinic (Rood and Riddle) in Lexington early next week and do a digital bone scan."

Donna Ward noted that it was good that the injury was detected early because the colt, undefeated in three career starts, would have been treated with Bute later in the day and that the medication likely would have masked the injury.

"That could have led to something catastrophic," she said. "Sometimes blessings come in strange ways and maybe this will turn out best in the long run."

Sky Mesa began his career with an impressive 7 3/4-length triumph in a maiden special weight race at Saratoga and followed with victories in the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) and Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (gr. II) at Keeneland.