Updated on 09/17/2011 10:52AM

Vindication out of Derby

Vindication under exercise rider Larry Damore. A bruised foot will prevent him from becoming the first juvenile champion to win the Kentucky Derby since 1979.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Vindication, the champion 2-year-old colt of 2002, will miss the Triple Crown because of a suspensory injury to his left foreleg, trainer Bob Baffert said on Thursday.

Ending a week of speculation about the colt's well-being, Baffert said that Vindication suffered a bruised foot during training in late January. The left foreleg became a concern earlier this week after Vindication returned to the racetrack after missing a few days of training over the weekend. Dr. Norman Rantanen diagnosed the suspensory injury on Wednesday after tests were conducted.

"We don't have all the answers," Baffert said. "We won't know for 60 days. We found a suspicious spot and we have to do an ultrasound in 60 days. I'm devastated."

Owners Satish and Anne Sanan were notified Wednesday evening, according to their daughter, Nadia, general manager of the family's Padua Stable.

"We're hopeful in our outlook that we can get him back to the races," Nadia Sanan said. "We'll know whether we can bring him back into training in 60 days. It's too difficult to tell anything because there is swelling. You can't get a clear picture with the swelling."

Baffert said Vindication will remain with his California stable while recuperating. The Sanans and Baffert have suggested that Vindication could return to racing later this year.

"We're hoping to work out a fall campaign," Baffert said. "I feel optimistic that it can heal up. The timing is terrible."

Vindication was considered the favorite for the Kentucky Derby on May 3, following his unbeaten campaign in 2002. In four starts, he won two stakes - the Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway Park in September and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile

at Arlington Park in October. A $2.15 million purchase at the 2001 Saratoga yearling sale, Vindication has earned $680,950.

His absence from the Kentucky Derby continues a streak of failure in the Kentucky Derby for the winners of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Since the Juvenile was inaugurated in 1984, no winner has gone on to win the Kentucky Derby. In addition, no 2-year-old champion has won the Derby since Spectacular Bid in 1979.

This year's Kentucky Derby has already been hit hard by injuries. Toccet, who won the Champagne Stakes, Remsen Stakes, and Hollywood Futurity last fall, is out of serious training with injured ankles that will be evaluated later this month.

Even though he had not raced since October, Vindication made news in December and January. In December, Padua Stable struck a deal with Hill 'n' Dale Farms, near Lexington, Ky., for the colt to stand at that farm at the end of his racing career. At the time it was announced that Padua Stable retained a majority interest in Vindication's breeding rights. On Thursday, Nadia Sanan declined to reveal the level of her family's involvement.

She said there is no plan to abandon Vindication's racing career for stud duty this year. "None of us are considering sending him to stud right now," she said. "We want to give him every opportunity to get his breeding career started the right way. Right now breeding season is starting and mares have already been booked."

In late January, Baffert announced that jockey Jerry Bailey would ride Vindication this year. Bailey rode Vindication in a workout on Jan. 25, the colt's final workout before the injury was detected.

Baffert, who trained Kentucky Derby winners Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), and War Emblem (2002), considered Vindication to be his best chance for a fourth win. Baffert's Derby hopes now rest with prospects such as Domestic Dispute, the winner of the Santa Catalina Stakes on Jan. 18, and Kafwain, the winner of the San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 1, who finished second to Vindication in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.