To Honor and Serve, third in both the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby, is off the Kentucky Derby trail with a strain to the suspensory ligament of his left foreleg, trainer Bill Mott said late Friday afternoon.
Mott said the injury is "very common" and that To Honor and Serve would probably lose four to six weeks of training, but could ultimately make it back to the races later this year at a high level.
"We don't think it's serious, we didn't want to go on and have it be something serious down the road," said Mott, who trains To Honor and Serve for Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Plantation. "I've had dozens of them and we've had horses that have come back and win major stakes afterward. It's a setback. Generally, if you stop in time and take care of it, they can be managed and they'll be fine."
Mott said he noticed something amiss with To Honor and Server earlier in the week when he returned to the track at Payson Park following his third-place finish to Dialed In in last Sunday's Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. The injury was confirmed via ultrasound.
"When we had him on the track I didn't think he was moving perfectly," Mott said. "It wasn't bad, it was just the anterior portion of his stride on the left front wasn't as good as it should be."
Mott said To Honor and Serve would be hand-walked for the next several weeks before being reevaluated.
To Honor and Serve was a finalist for the Eclipse Award as juvenile champion after he won 3 of 4 starts, including the Grade 2 Nashua and Grade 2 Remsen Stakes, both at Aqueduct.
In his 3-year-old debut, To Honor and Serve finished a non-threatening third behind Soldat in the Fountain of Youth, a race Mott figured his horse would need. In last Sunday's Florida Derby, however, To Honor and Serve didn't fare much better, finishing third, again beaten 6 3/4 lengths.
"I guess you could speculate that he came out of the race with it; whether it happened during the race is neither here nor there," Mott said. "I think there has to be a reason that he didn't run any better than he did. That certainly wasn't this best effort."