Breeders’ Cup announced Friday night that the Turf (G1) has lost a key player: 7-2 morning-line favorite Ulysses has been scratched upon the advice of the track veterinarians.
No further details were given in the press release, but Jeremy Balan of Blood-Horse reports that the Galileo colt came out of his Thursday breeze with heat in his fetlock. The Daily Mail‘s Marcus Townend tweeted that the tendon is implicated.
Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, the Niarchos family homebred had been set for this race ever since his fourth to Highland Reel in the 2016 Turf at Santa Anita. Ulysses was much improved as a four-year-old, capturing the Eclipse (G1) and Juddmonte International (G1) over the summer as well as placing to superstar filly Enable in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth (G1) and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) in his latest.
In his absence, defending champion Highland Reel may inherit the mantle of favoritism, although only 5-1 on the original morning line. Leading North American contender Beach Patrol was initially tabbed as the 4-1 second choice.
Update: On Saturday, Breeders’ Cup released the following statement from Dr. Scott Palmer, the on-call veterinarian from the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
The decision to scratch Ulysses was made by the connections, of course, with the advice of Dr. Wayne McIlwraith. The concern was that Ulysses has a small amount of inflammation in his left front fetlock. Upon examination by Dr. McIlwraith and consultation with the connections, they felt it was in the best interest of the horse not to run him today. I don’t think it’s a life-threatening issue whatsoever, it’s just a bit of a concern and they wish to do the right thing by the horse and protect him, so they decided to withdraw from competition.
Dr. McIlwraith looked at him yesterday and I do not know what may have preceded that process. Ordinarily with things like this, it’s possible there could have been something a little earlier, but you like to give the horse the benefit of the doubt because small matters can come and go and resolve themselves. I’m quite confident that last night when he and the connections spoke this over, they felt there was just enough concern that they wanted to do right by the horse and withdraw.
I’m not aware of any prior concerns, but, as I said, it would not surprise me. Those things, especially in a big event like this, they want to give the horse the best opportunity to be OK and the connections a completely fair shake. We’re talking about a very important race, here. Typically, as I said, there would be a period of observation and careful management and if things aren’t going in a good direction, we stop, and I’m pretty sure that’s what happened.
Ulysses was due to retire to Cheveley Park Stud for the 2018 breeding season, so his new career awaits. He is scheduled to ship home to Britain on Sunday.