03/08/2012 1:22PM

Hovdey: Harty awaits recovery with Out of Bounds

Benoit & Associates
Out of Bounds, Garrett Gomez up, wins the Sham before being sidelined by an injury that needed surgery.

The colt who would have been favored in the $300,000 San Felipe Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita was resting comfortably in his stall Thursday morning after undergoing a surgical procedure the day before to repair a fracture of his left fore cannon bone.

The injury occurred during a five-furlong workout on Monday at Hollywood Park that for all appearances put a cherry on Eoin Harty’s preparation of Out of Bounds for the key West Coast Kentucky Derby prep. Then Out of Bounds took a funny step leaving the wash rack following the work, and Harty detected some incipient filling in the inside branch of the ligament structure supporting the left fore.

“You get a little jaded after a while,” Harty said. “When the ligament fills like that on the outside, you’ve probably got a condylar fracture on the outside of the cannon bone. When it fills on the inside branch, the fracture will be on the inside. I didn’t need to see a picture.”

But that’s exactly what the X-rays revealed. The surgery took place at the Hollywood Park veterinary clinic, built in the late 1980’s with a grant from owner Dolly Green.

“Everything went good,” said Harty, who trains Out of Bounds for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. “He’s been the perfect patient, and he seems quite happy. The surgery took about an hour and a half. I was in the waiting room, like an anxious father.”

Dr. Keith Latzen, who led the surgical team, stabilized the fracture with two screws.

“It went better than they expected,” Harty said. “The two fracture lines came together absolutely perfect, where you could barely see a fracture now at all.”

Then came the recovery, which Out of Bounds passed with flying colors.

“That’s the point where I really hold my breath,” Harty noted. “You hear of so many of these episodes like The Tin Man, of them getting up in recovery and things going wrong.”

The Tin Man, to whom Harty referred, was the 2006 Arlington Million winner who fractured a knee while coming out of anesthesia following routine ankle chip surgery.

“Your surgery can go a hundred percent,” Harty noted, “but there’s still that time coming out of anesthetic when they’re neither here nor there, and they’re struggling to get their balance.

“He’s been like his trainer – stoic,” Harty added. “I’ll keep him here a month or so, at least until the stitches come out, then he’ll go back to Darley in Kentucky.”

Out of Bounds, a tall, striking chestnut with a blaze, caught the eye with his maiden victory at seven furlongs in December. Harty jumped the colt into the one-mile Sham Stakes after that and came away with a half-length victory over Secret Circle, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint winner who went on to take a division of the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

If Out of Bounds heals and returns to training – let’s instead say when he heals and returns to training – he still will be the same imposing 17-hand colt with a pair of front legs not exactly embodying the conformational ideal. Harty was asked if this would be an ongoing problem for the older, more physically mature version of Out of Bounds.

“The thing going in his favor is that he never had any surgeries as a yearling to correct his imperfections,” Harty said. “Whereas so many of these horses you might buy at sales have had such surgeries, and their bodies have had to adjust from what god intended in the first place. This colt – he is what he is, and was already compensating for what nature gave him to work with.”

Out of Bounds was not the first casualty of this year’s march to the Kentucky Derby, and he won’t be the last. What should have been a field of 11 in the San Felipe is now 10, and they are 10 of the most promising 3-year-olds in town, topped now by the Bob Baffert-trained pair of Liaison and Bodemeister.

Liaison is the most accomplished runner in the field, having won the CashCall Futurity and the Real Quiet Stakes last fall over Hollywood’s synthetic track. In his first start this year, Liaison had the misfortune to clip heels and stumble in the stretch of the Robert Lewis Stakes on Feb. 4, sending Rafael Bejarano to the ground.

“It was a strange race from the start that day,” said Liaison’s owner, Arnold Zetcher. “We thought he’d be laying closer to the pace than he was. Fortunately he came out of the incident okay.”

Meanwhile, Eoin Harty is forgiven if he goes fishing on Saturday, or cuts the lawn. There’s no sense hanging around to watch the train leave without him.

“I have a horse to run, but mercifully it’s in an earlier race so I can get out of there,” Harty said. That would be A Day Away, a Darley 3-year-old colt by Any Given Saturday who goes in the second race on the program, a one-mile maiden event on grass. Other than confirming by his name that Sheikh Mohammed is, in fact, a big fan of Broadway musicals, A Day Away has yet to separate himself from the crowd.

“A Day Away is a very nice horse, and a very honest horse,” Harty said. “But he’s never going to fill even a tenth of the shoes of Out of Bounds.”