06/01/2010 12:00AM

St Nicholas Abbey out of Epsom Derby


St Nicholas Abbey, the longtime winter book favorite for Saturday's Epsom Derby, has been withdrawn from the mile-and-a-half classic after being diagnosed with a muscle injury on Tuesday morning. The Montjeu colt returned to his stall stiff at trainer Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle yard on Monday evening. A scan revealed that he had injured a muscle high in his hind quarter.

The highly regarded European juvenile champion had disappointed badly when sixth in his seasonal debut in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 1, but nonetheless had been banged down to 7-4 favoritism for the Epsom Derby as recently as last Thursday. A dull work on Friday morning saw British bettors deserting St Nicholas Abbey in droves as his stablemate Jan Vermeer was installed as the big race favorite at 7-4. Jan Vermeer remains at that price with Ladbrokes, with the Michael Stoute-trained Workforce at 6-1. Three horses, the O'Brien-trained pair of Cape Blanco and Midas Touch and the Henry Cecil-trained Bullet Train, are all 7-1. Meanwhile, the Godolphin runner Rewilding has been bet down from 12-1 to 8-1.

O'Brien confirmed on Tuesday that Jan Vermeer, Midas Touch, and pacemaker At First Sight would run in the Epsom Derby, while Cape Blanco and Viscount Nelson would most likely run in the French Derby at Chantilly on Sunday.