By Christie DeBernardis
Undefeated ‘TDN Rising Star’ Charlatan (Speightstown) will be forced to miss the June 20 GI Belmont S.–and likely the rest of the Triple Crown–due to a minor ankle injury, per trainer Bob Baffert. The story was first reported by the Paulick Report.
“I feel like I just went a few rounds in the ring with Mike Tyson,” Baffert told the TDN just after watching one of his other top sophomores, the previously unbeaten Authentic (Into Mischief), finished second in the GI Santa Anita Derby. “It was tough and I’m sad Charlatan has to miss [the Belmont]. He is going to be fine, but we are just being super cautious. The timing is not good, but he will be fine. It is pretty minor, but we wanted to do the right thing and take care of the horse.”
Baffert noticed fill in Charlatan’s ankle and an MRI was performed to determine the cause after X-rays failed to find the issue,
“It is so small that the X-ray couldn’t see it, but the MRI picked it up,” the Hall of Famer said. “You can see a tiny little something thing irritating the area. His ankle had a little fill in the front. We will take it out immediately and flush it. It is really small, but we have these MRIs now that are pretty good. You can really see a lot. It is minor, but we just have to do right by the horse. He will be back.”
The Belmont and the July 18 GI Haskell Invitational S., which was one of Baffert’s main targets for Charlatan, are out of the question as the colt is likely to be sidelined for at least 45 days. The Sept. 5 GI Kentucky Derby also appears to be off the table and the Oct. 3 GI Preakness S. is also unlikely, but may be a remote possibility.
“I was really waiting for the Haskell. That is what I really wanted to do, but everything changed in the last 48 hours,” Baffert said. “He will be ready for something in the Breeders’ Cup for sure, whether that be the [Dirt] Mile or what not. The Preakness may be on the table depending, but it is a longshot. It is still an option, but it is a long ways off.”
A dazzling debut winner going six furlongs at Santa Anita Feb. 16, Charlatan demolished a one-mile optional claimer field in Arcadia by 10 1/4 lengths Mar 14 and won his division of the GI Arkansas Derby for fun May 2. Hill ‘n’ Dale purchased his stallion rights a few days later.
Baffert also won the other division of the Arkansas Derby with Nadal (Blame). Between those two colts and Authentic, it appeared Baffert could saddle the top three choices in the Derby, but Nadal–who was also pointing for the Belmont–suffered a condylar fracture May 28, sending him into early retirement.
Authentic remains on the Derby trail with his runner-up effort to Honor A.P. (Honor Code) Saturday and one of Baffert’s other top colts, Thousand Words (Pioneerof the Nile), may have put himself back in the spotlight after a best-of-41 five-furlongs in :58.60 Saturday morning.
“You know who is coming back good,” Baffert asked. “Thousand Words. He really showed me something in his work today.”