NEW YORK – Quality Road is out of the Kentucky Derby.
Expected to be among the favorites, Quality Road missed a final workout Monday morning at Belmont Park and was declared out of Saturday's Run for the Roses by trainer Jimmy Jerkens.
"We couldn't train him so we decided we couldn't run him," Jerkens said. "He just isn't sound enough."
Quality Road developed a quarter crack on his right front foot last week, and missed significant training. He galloped Sunday on Belmont's training track, and Jerkens found a spot of blood on the newly patched crack.
On Monday morning, Jerkens noticed the colt's foot was sore and that he was favoring it. A quarter crack on the 3-year-old colt's right hind foot had responded successfully to treatment.
"You're just kidding yourself if you think you can go out there and run in the biggest race in the world and haven't trained," Jerkens said. "It's a shame because he's so talented."
Quality Road has won 3-of-4 starts, including the Fountain of Youth Stakes and the Florida Derby, where he beat another top Derby contender in Dunkirk.
Jerkens, the son of Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens, was looking to send out his first Derby starter.
"It's devastating," Jerkens said. "He's really sensitive on the quarter. I don't know if you'd ever get a horse into the Derby (again) with his credentials. We'll re-patch it but we can't do it until all the soreness is out of it."
On Sunday, hoof specialist Ian McKinlay worked on the foot and said the horse was on the mend. While the injury will keep Quality Road out of the Derby, he doesn't think it is career-threatening.
"If this thing calms right down, he'll be back on track," McKinlay said. "Something is aggravating the heel as hard as he hits the ground."
Owner Edward P. Evans said there's a chance Quality Road could run in the Preakness on May 16 or the Belmont on June 6.
Quality Road was considered among the favorites if he made the 20-horse Derby after setting a track record while holding off Dunkirk in the Florida Derby on March 28.
Jerkens noticed the quarter crack in the right hind foot while in the winner's circle after the race, but it didn't stop the colt from putting together a pair of excellent workouts.
The newest crack, however, was more troublesome. Quality Road appeared to be fine while walking the shedrow late Sunday night, but Jerkens could tell something was wrong when he visited the horse's stall Monday.
"He didn't even want to come out of his stall," Jerkens said.
The injury opens the door for Join in the Dance to make the Derby field. The colt, who finished third behind General Quarters in the Blue Grass Stakes on April 11, is currently 22nd on the graded stakes earnings list for 3-year-olds.
Join in the Dance is the third Todd Pletcher-trained horse in the Derby. The Eclipse Award winning trainer will also saddle Dunkirk and Advice on Saturday as he tries to capture his first Run for the Roses. Pletcher is 0-for-21 in the Derby.