Top Md. 3-year-old sidelined for Derby

April 15, 1991|By Marty McGee

Tong Po, perhaps Maryland's top 3-year-old, is out of Kentucky Derby contention after bucking shins Saturday.

The colt had been training in New York for Saturday's Wood Memorial.

"Well, that's part of racing," trainer Leon Blusiewicz said.

Many young horses buck shins, which is a naturally occurring, painful tear of a membranous sheath from the shin. It often happens early in a horse's life, sometimes even before it begins its racing career. The healing time is generally four to six months, which is the time frame Blusiewicz has laid out for the colt's return.

"He should be ready for the Jim Dandy and Travers [at Saratoga in August]," he said. "Then there's the fall, when everybody's horses are worn out. The Triple Crown wears them out."

In his third and last start, Tong Po won last month's Tesio Stakes at Pimlico Race Course by eight lengths.

In other Derby developments, trainer Ben Perkins Jr. said a decision on whether to send Tank to the Derby "is still up in the air." Tank won Saturday's Garden State Stakes by 7 1/2 lengths after breaking a bit slowly.

"Before the race, [owner] Mrs. [Allaire] DuPont said she really didn't want to go," Perkins said. "She's still leaning toward not going. If it was up to me, I think the horse deserves a shot. He's a big strong horse, a stretch runner, and that's what you need. So we'll hit her with the idea of going in a couple days."

Mrs. DuPont, who owned five-time Horse of the Year Kelso, has never had a Derby starter.

Meanwhile, Strike the Gold's Blue Grass Stakes victory means Chris Antley could have a tough decision ahead of him.

Antley rode Strike the Gold in the Blue Grass and will ride Meadow Star, the unbeaten filly and likely Wood favorite.

Trainer Nick Zito said yesterday that Strike the Gold's owner, Giles Brophy, will allow Antley until Saturday to decide on which horse he will ride.

Pat Day apparently will ride Strike the Gold if Antley chooses Meadow Star.

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