04/13/2007 11:00PM

Injury knocks Notional out of Derby

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Notional, the Florida Derby runner-up and one of four hopefuls for the May 5 Kentucky Derby trained by Doug O'Neill, suffered a fractured cannon bone in his front left leg during a routine gallop Saturday morning at Keeneland and is out of the Derby.

O'Neill, who had another of his Derby hopefuls, Great Hunter, finish fifth in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, confirmed the injury Saturday via phone from California.

"Son of a gun," he said. "It was just one of those things. He didn't cool out well at all after just a normal gallop. Obviously you hate whenever anything like this happens, but it's the nature of the game."

Notional was scheduled to undergo surgery to repair the injury Sunday at the Rood and Riddle equine clinic in Lexington, with Dr. Larry Bramlage performing the operation. The injury is not life-threatening, but it has not been determined whether the colt will be able to eventually return to racing.

Notional, owned by J. Paul Reddam, is a California-bred colt by In Excess with six career starts. After winning an October maiden sprint at Santa Anita, he has raced exclusively in stakes, winning the Grade 2 San Rafael at Santa Anita and the Grade 3 Risen Star at the Fair Grounds leading up to his last race, the March 31 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.

Notional closed to be second, beaten 1 1/4 lengths, by Scat Daddy as the 3-1 second choice in the Florida Derby. Afterward, his jockey, Robby Albarado, was extremely optimistic about his Derby chances. "The mile and a quarter should hit him right in the head," said Albarado.

Notional was one of 22 separately listed wagering interests remaining in the third and final pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager after Birdbirdistheword was withdrawn from the wagering Thursday. Notional was 22-1 when O'Neill confirmed the injury late Saturday afternoon. Churchill Downs has a policy of suspending futures wagering on horses eliminated from Derby consideration, and stopped taking bets on Notional Saturday evening after receiving official notification.

Reddam and O'Neill have Liquidity, fourth in the Santa Anita Derby, pointing to the Derby. Reddam also is the owner of Great Hunter. O'Neill is pointing Cobalt Blue to the Derby for owned by Merv Griffin,