Another loss to Preakness: Derby winner out of race Grindstone retired because of bone chip in his right knee; Cavonnier now favorite; Other big name, Unbridled's Song, dropped out earlier

THE BALTIMORE SUN

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The second bolt of crushing news struck the Preakness yesterday. The winner of the Kentucky Derby, Grindstone, will not run in the May 18 race at Pimlico.

The 3-year-old colt was retired yesterday after a bone chip was discovered in his right front knee. He had jogged in the morning on the Churchill Downs track here -- his first trip to the track since winning the Derby Saturday -- and returned to trainer D. Wayne Lukas' barn showing discomfort.

X-rays revealed a bone chip in the same knee on which arthroscopic surgery was performed last August. Instead of operating on the knee a second time, Grindstone's owner, William T. Young of Kentucky's Overbrook Farm, decided to retire him.

"This injury is not life-threatening to Grindstone," Young said. "It's simply the right thing to do."

The news was the second blow this week to the Preakness. Three days ago, the owner of Unbridled's Song, the likely Preakness favorite despite a fifth-place finish in the Derby, said his horse almost certainly would not travel to Baltimore because of a foot injury.

The absence of Grindstone and Unbridled's Song leaves the Preakness without a star horse.

"I certainly don't think this takes luster from the race itself," said Joseph A. De Francis, president of the Maryland Jockey Club, which owns Pimlico, "but it's very disappointing not to have a Triple Crown possibility. We still have an outstand-ing field, and the Preakness will always be the Preakness. It's still going to be a great race. If Michael Jordan injures his back, the NBA playoffs continue."

Cavonnier, who finished second by a nose to Grindstone in the Derby, now will be the likely betting favorite. He won the Santa Anita Derby and boasts six victories in 14 starts.

And Lukas, the superstar trainer, now will storm into Baltimore with two, not three, horses. Both will be popular with bettors -- Prince of Thieves, third in the Derby, and Editor's Note, who finished sixth.

Lukas is aiming for his seventh straight win of a Triple Crown race -- a record that began in Baltimore with Tabasco Cat's triumph in the 1994 Preakness. Tabasco Cat then won the Belmont, and, in 1995, Lukas saddled winners Thunder Gulch in JTC the Kentucky Derby, Timber Country in the Preakness and Thunder Gulch in the Belmont.

Lukas was not at Churchill Downs when Grindstone's injury was discovered. He was in California tending to his 2-year-old prospects. He flew back to Louisville last night.

Lukas said Grindstone probably injured the knee in the Derby but the soreness just didn't show up until yesterday morning, when the exercise rider climbed aboard.

"The last three or four days, he was full of himself," Lukas said. "He was dragging two handlers out to the lawn and back."

Lukas still seemed upbeat.

"You can't dwell on it, and we won't," he said. "We didn't lose the horse. He's going to stud. And he just won the ultimate race.

"We're going to get up in the morning and go to training the other two."

Other top contenders in this year's Preakness would be Skip Away, owned by Baltimore native Carolyn Hine and trained by her husband, Sonny, and Louis Quatorze, trained by Nick Zito.

Both horses must rebound from poor races in the Kentucky Derby. Skip Away finished 12th and Louis Quatorze 16th.

Grindstone is the first Kentucky Derby winner not to compete in the Preakness since Spend a Buck in 1985. And he is the second Kentucky Derby winner never to race again. Bubbling Over, who won the Derby in 1926, stopped racing because of a tendon injury.

Grindstone was a surprise winner of the Derby, mainly because he had raced only five times.

As a 2-year-old on June 11, he won his first start by five lengths in an allowance race at Belmont Park. After his next start July 1, the Grade III Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs, he finished fourth -- the only time in his career he wasn't first or second.

A bone chip was discovered in his right front knee, and he underwent arthroscopic surgery.

He was sidelined until Feb. 17, when he made his 3-year-old debut in an allowance race at Santa Anita. He finished second.

On March 17, he won the Grade III Louisiana Derby by 3 1/2 lengths. And on April 13, he was beaten by a neck in the Arkansas Derby.

In the Kentucky Derby, Grindstone broke 15th in the field of 19 horses. He unleashed a furious run around the final turn and down the homestretch to catch Cavonnier by a nose.

Grindstone is a son of Unbridled, who won the Kentucky Derby in 1990, out of the mare Buzz My Bell. He will stand at Overbrook Farm in Lexington.

Preakness no-shows

A list of Kentucky Derby winners since 1919 who did not participate in the Preakness. 1919 was the first year that a Kentucky Derby winner ran in the Preakness:

Year .... .... .... Horse

1920 .... .... .... Paul Jones

1921 .... .... .... Behave Yourself

1922 .... .... .... Morvich

1924 .... .... .... Black Gold

1925 .... .... .... Flying Ebony

1926 .... .... .... Bubbling Over

1928 .... .... .... Reigh Count

1929 .... .... .... Clyde Van Dusen

1938 .... .... .... Lawrin

1951 .... .... .... Count Turf

1952 .... .... .... Hill Gail

1954 .... .... .... Determine

1955 .... .... .... Swaps

1959 .... .... .... Tomy Lee

1982 .... .... .... Gato Del Sol

1985 .... .... .... Spend a Buck

1996 .... .... .... Grindstone

Pub Date: 5/10/96

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