Kentucky Derby hopeful Hoppertunity will miss the famed race because of a sore left front foot.
The Rebel Stakes winner is trained by Bob Baffert, and was to have been ridden Saturday by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.
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"Bad news travels fast," Baffert told reporters Thursday outside his barn at Churchill Downs, The Associated Press reported
. "The horse is OK. He's just not 100 percent and it's too close to the race, so I pulled the plug."
Baffert said he saw something Wednesday when Hoppertunity took a few steps. A hoof tester determined that the inside quarter was sore, so they removed part of the shoe. The horse appeared better, but Baffert chose not to take any chances.
"When we brought him out (Thursday) morning," Baffert continued, according to ESPN,
"he was still a little bit off on that left front foot," Baffert said. "He was warming up on it, but I knew if he was still like that tomorrow ... "
An early 6-1 second choice, Hoppertunity was sent to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, for a full examination, ESPN said. If a bruised foot remains the diagnosis, the colt should be able to run in the May 17 Preakness.
"We're pretty sure it's the foot, but we just want to make sure that it's nothing else so we can continue on with him for the Preakness," Baffert said. "The timing is obviously horrible because we don't have enough time to work on the foot."
California Chrome remains the heavy favorite at 5-2 for the 104th running of the race, according to odds maker Mike Battaglia. Wicked Strong, the horse named for the victims of last year's Boston Marathon bombings, replaced Hoppertunity as the early second choice at 6-1.
Arkansas Derby winner Danza and Intense Holiday share the third choices at 8-1, while Tapiture earned the fifth choice at 12-1.
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