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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, April 26, 2010

Derby favorite out with bad leg

Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. Todd Pletcher sank into the chair and wearily turned toward the cameras.

The Eclipse Award-winning trainer has grown accustomed to disappointment at the Kentucky Derby where he's winless in 24 starts but never quite like this.

Pletcher pulled likely favorite Eskendereya (pronounced Es-ken-der-AE-ah) out of the Derby yesterday due to swelling in the 3-year-old chestnut colt's left front leg.

Pletcher noticed the inflammation after Eskendereya's gallop over a sloppy track on Saturday. The swelling grew worse overnight, and Pletcher sent owner Ahmed Zayat a text at 4:30 a.m. yesterday expressing his concerns.

Two hours later, the horse Pletcher called the best he ever brought to the Derby was out of Saturday's Run for the Roses.

Pletcher said Zayat "took it better than I would have."

"He says the horse comes first," Pletcher said.

Eskendereya had been so dominant in winning the Wood Memorial and Fountain of Youth Stakes by a combined 18[0xa4] lengths he would have easily been the morning line favorite when the expected 20-horse field is set Wednesday afternoon.

Oddsmaker Mike Battaglia said he could have put the odds on Eskendereya as low as 9-5, an eye-poppingly low number in a race as wide-open as the Derby.