The 2018 Kentucky Derby might be without one of its potential spoilers. Avery Island returned from a five furlong working lame and though no structural damage has been found via x-rays, his connections remain doubtful that he’ll be at peak form by the first weekend in May. The reigning Withers Stakes winner closed the recent edition of the future wagers pool as a 29/1 outsider.
“It’s very disappointing for all of us here at Godolphin, and plans are on hold until we know more about the injury,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “He’s done something to himself. But we will wait until we hear from Dr. Bramlage before deciding the next move.”
Avery Island has been on a positive upturn during his entire career, first impressing with a dazzling win in the 2017 Nashua Stakes. He then lost the Remsen but bounced back with a dominant performance in the Withers Stakes to assert himself as a horse to key in on. As a son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, the Godolphin product was always expected to be competitive. His racing career is not over, and neither is his dream of entering the American Classics, but horse players have to be disheartened that we may not see him compete for the big one.
The news comes on the even sadder news concerning Mourinho, the Smarty Jones winner who was injured and euthanized this past Monday. It’s a stern reminder that training for the Kentucky Derby at this age is no easy task, and not everyone gets through the process fully healthy despite the best available care. Unfortunately, injuries remain part of sport overall.
Bettors who were able to witness how strong Avery Island appeared in Grade 2 and Grade 3 races know that there’s something there, but without any real context concerning his ability at the highest possible tier it’s tough to grade him out completely. If he does make it to the derby in May, he’ll be a longshot given the lack of data and the questions regarding his engine being up to snuff.