On a sunny spring morning, Todd Pletcher suffered through a trainer's worst nightmare.
Intense Holiday is out of the Belmont Stakes after suffering non-displaced condylar fracture of the right foreleg during a workout shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday on Belmont Park's main track. Pletcher said the injury was not life-threatening, and co-owner Jack Wolf said Dr. Patricia Hogan would perform surgery Monday at a veterinary clinic in Cream Ridge, New Jersey.
"I don't think it's career-ending," Pletcher said. "It's particularly frustrating because after the Derby we ran [tests] and everything indicated he was healthy and ready to move forward. It's unfortunate."
Exercise rider Patti Krotenko dismounted on the clubhouse turn after pulling up the colt, who was walked onto an equine ambulance. Daily Racing Form clocker Mike Vesce said Intense Holiday "didn't look right in the workout, and he pulled up badly. He didn't look nearly as good as he did all winter. He usually works tremendously."
Intense Holiday was a workout star at Churchill Downs before the Kentucky Derby, in which he finished 12th behind California Chrome. Intense Holiday skipped the Preakness.
Pletcher likes working his better horses together, and Intense Holiday was in company with Commissioner, ridden by jockey Javier Castellano. Both completed 5 furlongs in 1:01.77.
"I thought Commissioner breezed very well," Pletcher said. "He was traveling well throughout and was willing. He seemed to be getting over the surface well and wrapped up good. He did everything you hoped he would do.
"I think the longer he goes, the better he will get. We're looking forward to the [11/2-mile] distance.'"
Kentucky-based Starlight Racing owns Intense Holiday, who is 2-for-9 with career earnings of $551,900. Wolf, Starlight's founder, was in the stands watching the workout. Giants executive Chris Mara has been a minority partner since 2012.
It was the second time in five days that Pletcher removed a horse from the Belmont, which he has won twice, including last year with Palace Malice. The six-time Eclipse Award winner announced Tuesday he was withdrawing Danza, third in the Derby, because the colt appeared tired and had a minor skin ailment. Last month, his undefeated Florida Derby winner, Constitution, suffered a hairline fracture of the right foreleg, which was not career-threatening, in a workout.
As bad as yesterday morning was, the afternoon offered Wolf and Pletcher hope that they may have another serious 3-year-old colt. In the first race, Tiz Dark's 6¾-length runaway in his second career start raised their spirits. The late Mets announcer Bob Murphy always called baseball "a game of redeeming features," and so is horse racing.
Notes & quotes: Three other Belmont contenders worked out -- Tonalist (5 furlongs, 1:01.66); Samraat (mile, 1:41.28) and Wicked Strong (mile, 1:39.59, on the training track) . . . Owner Ron Sanchez said Social Inclusion (third in the Preakness) will run in the Belmont or the 7-furlong Woody Stephens Stakes on the undercard . . . Derby runner-up Commanding Curve breezed 5 furlongs in 59.80 Friday at Churchill.