03/30/2017 12:26PM

Derby contender El Areeb injured, will miss six months

Michael Amoruso
El Areeb will miss several months with a knee injury.

El Areeb, a 3-year-old with two Grade 3 stakes wins this year, came out of his Wednesday workout at Laurel Park with an injury to his right knee and is off the Kentucky Derby trail, trainer Cal Lynch said Thursday.

El Areeb, who was pointing to the Grade 2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 8, will undergo surgery at New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania and will be out of action approximately six months, Lynch said. Lynch said the surgery will be performed by veterinarian Dean Richardson, who is currently attending a conference in Hong Kong.

El Areeb worked 1 1/8 miles at Laurel on Wednesday, though he was officially credited with a half-mile work in 51.60 seconds. Lynch said El Areeb was off on Thursday, and X-rays revealed the injury.

“It’s the right knee, there’s a chip and maybe a slab [fracture],” Lynch said.

While obviously disappointed, Lynch said he and his owner – the M M G Stables of Mohammed Al-Gadhi – were just grateful that they’ll get a chance to run the horse again later this year or as a 4-year-old.

“We’re appreciative for that kind of thing,” Lynch said. “The horse will be fine, be off for a few months.”

El Areeb, a son of Exchange Rate, won the Jerome and Withers – both Grade 3 races at Aqueduct – and finished third in the Grade 3 Gotham on March 4 after getting involved in a speed duel.

El Areeb’s defection is a blow to the Wood Memorial, which already appeared to be light on starters. Those considered definite are Cloud Computing, Irish War Cry, Mo Town, Stretch’s Stone, and True Timber. Trainer Todd Pletcher, who has 11 of the 29 Wood nominees, has One Liner and Battalion Runner under consideration.