09/16/2010 10:35AM

Grand Couturier's inflamed ankle keeps him out of Northern Dancer

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Barbara D. Livingston
Grand Couturier came out of a Thursday training session at Belmont with inflammation and will not ship to Woodbine.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Grand Couturier came out of a Thursday morning training session at Belmont Park with inflammation in his left front ankle and was not entered for Sunday’s $750,000 Northern Dancer Stakes at Woodbine.

Trainer Robert Ribaudo said the ankle issue is something Grand Couturier has dealt with for a long time, but that the logistics of having to ship Thursday afternoon to Woodbine in order to be on the grounds by 10 a.m. Friday morning made it a prudent decision not to enter.

"If it was going to be here Sunday I’d wait another day or two and make a decision," Ribaudo said Thursday morning outside his Belmont Park barn. "But I've got to get on a van this afternoon; we've got to be there by 10 o’clock tomorrow morning. I can’t risk it and I need [Friday] to see it. It’s one of the things that hampered him all his career, it’s a bad day to raise its head right now."

Ribaudo said the inflammation was noted after Grand Couturier had a strong gallop over the Belmont training track shortly after 5:30 a.m. Thursday.

Ribaudo said if the ankle issue doesn’t prove to be anything more than what Grand Couturier has experienced throughout his career, there is a chance he could still make the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational here on Oct. 2.

Ribaudo scratched Grand Couturier from the Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes here on Sept. 11 in favor of the Northern Dancer because he thought the Belmont course might be too firm. Ribaudo noted that it was raining Thursday morning at Woodbine.

Grand Couturier, a 7-year-old son of Grand Lodge, is a three-time Grade 1 winner who has earned more than $1.4 million.