Injury KO's Great Hunter From Belmont Stakes

Injury KO's Great Hunter From Belmont Stakes
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Chipped ankle causes Great Hunter to miss Belmont.
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Paul Reddam’s Great Hunter, who finished 13th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) will miss the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) after suffering a chipped ankle in his right front leg, trainer Doug O’Neill said Saturday.

“He’ll be out of commission for a few months,” O’Neill said of the son of Aptitude, who was scheduled to ship to New York for the third leg of the Triple Crown after turning in a strong five-furlong work in 1:00 4/5 over the Cushion track at Hollywood Park on Thursday.

"“He didn’t cool out super well after the work, but we didn’t think much of it at the time,” O’Neill said.  “The next day, when the poultice was washed off his leg, we noticed some filling.”

X-rays revealed the chip, which will be removed surgically either this afternoon or Sunday, according to O'Neill.

"He'll probably need 90 days off," O'Neill said. "He's a strong, solid horse, so we'll be in good shape when he comes back."

Great Hunter, bred in Pennsylvania by Ivy Dell Stud, has scored victories in the Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) and Robert B, Lewis Memorial (gr. II), while placing in the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I), Del Mar Futurity and Best Pal (both gr. II), and Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III).

He also finished a troubled fifth in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) after being forced to take up inside the eighth pole.

With Great Hunter out, that leaves only five definite starters for the Belmont, with word on Street Sense not due until Tuesday.

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