Wood Memorial (G1) winner TOBY'S CORNER (Bellamy Road) was ruled out of the Kentucky Derby (G1) Tuesday morning after sustaining an ill-timed setback.
The Graham Motion trainee completed his final serious work when negotiating six furlongs in 1:15 at Fair Hill on Sunday. He was reportedly showing signs of unsoundness in his left hind leg Monday and underwent diagnostic tests by Dr. Dean Richardson at the New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania, which did not pinpoint an injury.
"We spent a couple of hours trying to figure out how to handle it and what we were dealing with," Motion said Tuesday. "We were within a 24-hour window of making a decision of whether he would to ship today or not. Obviously, time was of the essence to rule out whether we were dealing with a minor foot abscess or a significant injury.
"When we really couldn't get to the bottom of what it was because there was nothing clinical or nothing obvious, at that point I spoke with Dean, who was actually in surgery, I asked if he would be able have a look at him and/or get him into a bone scan because I couldn't see how else we were going to get to the bottom of what we were dealing with.
"(Assistant trainer) Adrian (Rolls) went and met with Dean the first thing this morning, at 6 (a.m. [EDT]), to see if there was any improvement, to see if there is any change. Adrian and I spoke and we spoke with Dean at about 6:30 and felt that he was exactly the same as he had been the previous afternoon. At that point, I called (owner) Mrs. (Dianne) Cotter and told her that we were in trouble, basically.
"I had already spoken with Mrs. Cotter yesterday and told her what we were up to.
"I've tried to think what to compare it to and I don't really know how to compare it. It completely takes the wind out of your sails. It's like getting a kick in the stomach. Everyone for weeks has been saying, 'Are you excited? You'll be excited. You've got to enjoy it.' But it's so hard to enjoy it because you just know that things like this are around the corner.
"I think as trainer you become somewhat of a pessimist because you half expect something like this to happen. That's why it's hard to get too up for these events until you're there.
"Dean is spending more time with him this afternoon. I'll speak with him later on. Once he has a look at him, we'll get him back over to Fair Hill."
Toby's Corner gained fame not only for his Wood Memorial victory, but also for being the first horse to defeat champion Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) in that same race. Toby's Corner had the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) winner back in third that day, and earned his shot at the Kentucky Derby with his Wood Memorial score.
He had previously run third to Uncle Mo's stablemate and fellow Derby hopeful Stay Thirsty (Bernardini) in the Gotham S. (G3), and captured the Whirlaway S. in his stakes bow.
In his absence, Lexington S. (G3) winner DERBY KITTEN (Kitten's Joy) now moves up into the 20th spot on the graded earnings list and earns a Derby berth.