05/02/2012 4:06PM

Kentucky Derby 2012: Algorithms the exception in this year’s crop

Barbara D. Livingston
Algorithms, who broke a splint bone in February, completed a 60-day recuperation period Tuesday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – With all the talk that the best horses in this 3-year-old crop made it unscathed through the winter months and will be in the starting gate for the 138th Kentucky Derby, it must be noted that there was one glaring exception: Algorithms, who in mid-February was widely considered as perhaps the preeminent Derby contender along with Union Rags.

But a broken splint bone that required surgery – a relatively minor injury, but one that takes up to six months for a horse to return to action – sidelined Algorithms, rendering him a rarity among this class to miss out on a chance at the sport’s biggest prize. Algorithms was unbeaten in three starts when his injury was revealed on the morning he was scheduled to race in the Feb. 26 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

“You have to come to terms with the reality of it,” said Jack Wolf, who heads the Starlight Racing partnership which owns Algorithms. “It’s really tough at the time, but I guess the bright side is you can’t have these top horses running every 30 days for 12 months. We’re going to have a good horse for the last few months of this year.”

Algorithms, a bay Bernardini colt trained by Todd Pletcher, completed a 60-day recuperation period Tuesday at the Ocala, Fla., farm operated by Pletcher’s father, J.J.

“The horse has been hand-walked twice a day for the last 30 days,” Wolf said. “He has an excellent prognosis. I think trying to make the Travers in late August would be pushing it, but hopefully he’ll be ready for a race around then.”

In more typical years, highly regarded 3-year-olds often fall by the wayside, either through sickness, injury, or declining form. But this year has been a happy exception as illustrated by the nine returnees from the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall, led by Hansen and Union Rags as well as others with solid form from the outset of their careers, including Creative Cause, Gemologist, Bodemeister, Liaison, and Went the Day Well.

◗ While morning veterinary examinations are conducted on all horses that race, those exams are done in triplicate for Oaks and Derby horses. Inspections of Oaks runners this week were Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (race morning), while the schedule for Derby runners was Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday (race morning).

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