03/19/2008 11:00PM

Sierra Sunset injured, off Derby trail

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Sierra Sunset will miss the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby after he was found to have a small fracture line in his left front ankle, according to his trainer, Jeff Bonde. The horse would have been a top contender in the April 12 Arkansas Derby follow his three-length victory in the Grade 3 Rebel Stakes on March 15.

Sierra Sunset will be flown back to his Northern California base when a flight becomes available, said Bonde. He said initial X-rays, taken two days after the Rebel, were negative, but further diagnostics revealed the fracture line. The injury means that Sierra Sunset is off the Kentucky Derby trail.

"It doesn't require surgery," Bonde said Thursday. "He just needs time off."

Bonde said plans are for Sierra Sunset to be off for three months. The horse picked up his third career stakes win in the Rebel, for which he was given a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 99.

One start prior, Sierra Sunset ran second to the undefeated Denis of Cork in the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn. His other stakes wins include the $125,000 California Cup Juvenile and the Bay Meadows Juvenile.