03/17/2015 11:40AM

Texas Red off Derby trail with foot abscess

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Texas Red finished second in the San Vicente, his only start this year.

Texas Red has been declared off the Kentucky Derby trail because of a lingering issue with a foot abscess, trainer Keith Desormeaux said Tuesday from Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif.

A 6 1/2-length winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall at Santa Anita, Texas Red finished second by a neck in his only start this year, the Feb. 1 San Vicente. Shortly thereafter, the 3-year-old colt came up with the problem in his right front hoof and was shipped to a local farm to heal. He returned to Santa Anita after several weeks and had his first workout Saturday when breezing a half-mile in 51.40 seconds.

Desormeaux had been hoping to make the April 4 Santa Anita Derby or the April 11 Arkansas Derby as a final prep toward the 141st Kentucky Derby on May 2 at Churchill Downs. His defection does not come as a huge surprise, given the tight time frame with which Desormeaux was working because of the nagging injury.

“We’ve been dealing with this for quite a while now,” said Desormeaux, who in a 24-year training career has never had a Kentucky Derby starter. “While this may be a moment of frustration, there’s no real disappointment in comparison to what the horse already has accomplished for us. He’s done so much good for us already.”

Texas Red, a Kentucky-bred by Afleet Alex, was 13-1 in his spectacular Juvenile victory and was a divisional finalist for a 2014 Eclipse Award when losing a close vote to American Pharoah. He is owned by the four-way partnership of Desormeaux, Eric Brehm, Lee Michaels, and Gene Voss.

Desormeaux said the decision to announce that the colt was off the Derby trail came after the colt trained Monday at Santa Anita.

“He wasn’t 100 percent limber in his first day of training after the work,” he said. “It just became a situation where we knew he shouldn’t be pushed. It’s not right.”

Desormeaux said no decision has been made about whether to try to make other important 3-year-old races.

“We’ll have the vet do a full work-up this week and figure out if anything major is wrong,” he said. “The horse doesn’t necessarily have to be turned out. I might just keep him here under my wing. We’ll have him looked over and make some decisions from there.”

Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, the trainer’s younger brother, was the regular rider of Texas Red but still has a Derby hopeful in Prospect Park. Kent Desormeaux has won the Derby three times.

Texas Red was a separate betting interest in each of the three futures pools offered so far by Churchill Downs toward the 2015 Derby. Starting with Pool 1, his odds were 14-1, 9-1, and 14-1. He had 12 points toward eligibility into the Derby field.

The defection of Texas Red means another Derby will pass without the BC Juvenile winner. Only one winner in the 31-year history of the Juvenile, Street Sense, has won the Derby, having pulled the double in 2006-07.