04/19/2014 12:12PM

Ankle injury puts Cairo Prince out of Kentucky Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
Cairo Prince, here training last month, will have his injured left front ankle evaluated at Rood and Riddle.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin fretted for two weeks whether Cairo Prince would have enough points to make it into the Kentucky Derby field. One week after learning that Cairo Prince would indeed make it, McLaughlin had to withdraw the horse from consideration for the 140th Derby due to an injury to his left front ankle.

"This is the toughest day in my career as a trainer to have to make this announcement," McLaughlin said by phone Saturday from south Florida.

"All the owners are understanding; hopefully the horse is fine."

Cairo Prince was the authoritative winner of the Grade 2 Holy Bull at Gulfstream on Jan. 25. But he ran a lackluster fourth as the favorite in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 29.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Cairo Prince worked Sunday at Palm Meadows but came out of the work "jarred up," according to McLaughlin.

Initially, McLaughlin thought it was a foot issue, but Saturday it appeared the problem was with Cairo Prince's left front ankle.

McLaughlin said that Cairo Prince was sent on Saturday by van to the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky. where noted equine surgeon Dr. Larry Bramlage would do further evaluation "and hopefully figure out exactly what's wrong," McLaughlin said.

Cairo Prince, a son of Pioneerof the Nile, was a $250,000 purchase as a yearling at the 2012 Keeneland auction. He was owned intially by Harvey Clarke, Paul Braverman, Terrence Murray, and Craig Robertson III. That quartet sold the majority interest in Cairo Prince to Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Racing following the Holy Bull.

The defection of Cairo Prince would open up a spot in the Derby starting gate for Vinceremos, winner of the Sam F. Davis at Tampa but last-place finisher in the Blue Grass at Keeneland.

Vinceremos is owned by WinStar Farm and Twin Creeks Racing, which announced Wednesday that an injury to Florida Derby winner Constitution will force him to miss the Triple Crown series.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said earlier this week he wanted to see how Vinceremos trained at Churchill Downs before making a Derby decision.