Updated on 09/17/2011 11:25AM

Sir Cherokee scratched from Derby


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Sir Cherokee, the longshot winner of the Arkansas Derby, was scratched from Saturday's Kentucky Derby on Friday morning with a small fracture in his right hind ankle, his trainer Michael Tomlinson said.

The scratch reduced the field for Saturday's 129th Kentucky Derby to 16 starters. Sir Cherokee was to have broken from post position 3 with Brancusi and Supah Blitz to his inside. With the scratch, Brancusi and Supah Blitz will move out one spot, leaving the inside position vacant. The same decision was made last year when Buddha scratched the day before the Derby.

Sir Cherokee, owned by Domino Stud, was stabled at the Churchill Downs Trackside Louisville Training Center, about five miles from Churchill Downs. On Tuesday, he was vanned over to work at Churchill, where he went five furlongs in 1:00.60. Following a day off Wednesday, Sir Cherokee galloped on Thursday. Afterward, Tomlinson noticed "he wasn't himself" and X-rays revealed the fracture.

"He wasn't noticeably lame, but he wasn't 100 percent," Tomlinson said. "He has a small fracture of the P1 bone in his right hind ankle."

Tomlinson said the initial diagnosis is that Sir Cherokee could resume training in 90 to 120 days.

"This is a very common injury," Tomlinson said. "It's not career-threatening, but the timing of it is horrendous as you all know."

Tomlinson unsuccessfully tried to hold back tears during a press conference on the Churchill Downs backside Friday morning.

"It's tough to get your foot in the door then get squeezed out," Tomlinson said. "This is not a game for guys in short pants."