A small tear in the suspensory ligament of Distilled's left front ankle was discovered yesterday morning after a routine gallop at Belmont Park. Distilled had suffered minor injuries in his left ankle and right knee April 21 in the roughly run Lexington Stakes at Keeneland.
With Distilled out, the early lead in the Preakness will likely belong to Richly Blended, the speedster trained by Ben Perkins Jr.
John Ward Jr., trainer of Monarchos, arose at 3:30 a.m. yesterday in Kentucky to fly to Maryland in time to see his Kentucky Derby winner gallop for the second morning over the Pimlico surface.
Ward liked what he saw, even though Monarchos appeared stiff in his hind end when he started. The farther he galloped, the better he looked. Monarchos galloped about 1 3/4 miles.
The colt has been sore behind for a couple of months, Ward said. That is the case with 80 percent to 90 percent of racehorses, he said. They become sore from running on jarring racetracks.
Before the Kentucky Derby, Ward's veterinarian injected Monarchos' hocks - the joint in the hind leg roughly equivalent to the knee - with hyaluronic acid, a lubricant. Ward said he may do that again before the Preakness.
Also yesterday, Ward discovered a crack in the left front hoof of Hero's Tribute, who was slated to run in the Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard or in the Preakness, if something happened to Monarchos.
Even though the crack will sideline Hero's Tribute temporarily, Ward was happy to find it, he said. He suspected that a hidden crack had caused the colt to run poorly in the Blue Grass Stakes.
Griffinite, a Preakness contender, breezed six furlongs in 1 minute 15 1/5 seconds at Pimlico. His trainer, Jennifer Pedersen, was not happy with the work. She said she would consult with the colt's owner, Ernie Paragallo, about keeping Griffinite on the Preakness trail.