Brocco, a major Triple Crown contender whose physical soundness has been questioned by a veterinary official, is sure to attract a crowd when he returns to the track at Santa Anita Park today and begins training for the May 7 Kentucky Derby.
William Bell, a veterinarian for the California Horse Racing Board, said the horse returned "slightly off" in his right foreleg after winning the Santa Anita Derby Saturday and placed him on the Vet's List.
The horse's condition was disputed by his trainer, Randy Winick, and his jockey, Gary Stevens.
The Vet's List is a compilation of horses that return sore after a race. The animal must meet certain physical requirements before being permitted to race again.
Winick said yesterday that he "respectfully disagrees" with Bell. "It's a judgment call," said Winick. "My vet, who was there after the race, never saw anything wrong with the horse, and neither did I. As far as I'm concerned, the horse is absolutely clean. He was tired after the race. It's customary for a horse in my barn to walk three days after running, and that's what I've done with Brocco."
Winick, who said he walked the horse for about 45 minutes yesterday, planned for Brocco to jog around the Santa Anita oval this morning. "Then I'll gallop him a couple of days and ship him to Louisville either Sunday or Monday," he said.
Winick said that after the horse gallops a few days over the Churchill Downs strip, "I'll see how he's handling the track, what the weather is like and then decide when I'm going to work him."
Winick plans three works for Brocco before the Derby -- two stiff workouts at five furlongs and at a mile -- and then a short half-mile blowout during Derby week.
Kentucky veterinarian George Mundy will assess Brocco's condition after his first strenuous work. If Mundy rules that the horse is OK, that will satisfy California requirements, and Brocco will be removed from the Vet's List.
"I decided I'm not going to let this incident change plans I have for the horse," Winick said.