Dr. Larry Bramlage, the on-call veterinarian representing the American Association of Equine Practitioners for Saturday's Kentucky Derby, said the cause of lameness in the left foreleg that led to Buddha being scratched from the classic appeared to be a "soft-tissue" injury and not a fracture.
"We don't have a definite diagnosis yet," Bramlage said Friday afternoon. "But when we examined him at 11 a.m., just a few hours after he was lame, he appeared to be 50 percent better. He was still lame, but a lot of the lameness had dissipated quickly. I would speculate, based on experience, that we are looking at a soft-tissue injury and not a fracture. If it had been a broken bone, he would have not improved that fast."
Bramlage said a complete diagnosis can be made after additional tests, which will include a bone scan. The bone scan, tentatively scheduled for Monday, will located any "hot spots" to be X-rayed, Bramlage said.
Bramlage said Buddha's status for the May 18 Preakness will be contingent upon the diagnosis of the injury.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ken Reed, the attending veterinarian for the H. James Bond-trained colt, labeled the injury an "unusual lameness."
Reed said he used diagnostic blocks (injected anesthesia) as part of the tests on Buddha.
"I've blocked as high as the knee and have not made him go sound," said Reed, an American Association of Equine Practitioners member who is based in Louisville, Ky. "So, it is between the knee or the shoulder. It could be a stress fracture of the humerus, or shoulder bursitis. It's an unusual lameness."
Reed reported that while Buddha is uncomfortable and lame, he doesn't seem to be in any pain. And even without any medication, he was less lame heading into the afternoon than he was in the morning.
At the time the injury was detected early Friday, a visibly shaken Bond and Bramlage said it was in the best interests of the colt to go ahead and scratch him from the Derby even though the extent and nature of the injury were unknown at the time.
Bond, who had said he would not point a horse for the Kentucky Derby unless he felt it had a solid chance to win, said, "I thought this was special. He is an amazing horse. But there will be another day for Buddha. It is very disappointing for my clients and myself."
With Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day named to ride, Buddha was the 5-1 second wagering choice. Now Day has been enlisted to ride Blue Burner, whose original jockey, Corey Nakatani, sustained a concussion in an accident at Hollywood Park on Thursday.
The Wood marked the third consecutive victory for Buddha.