Greatest Honour, one of the front-line Kentucky Derby favorites and a rare Shug McGaughey Derby prospect, departed the Derby trail Wednesday with apparent ankle issues.
McGaughey told Horse Racing Nation that Greatest Honour came out of his third-place finish in the Florida Derby “a little banged up.”
The Hall of Fame trainer plans on giving the Florida-bred colt the next 60 days off, with 30 days spent on a Florida farm recuperating from the stress-related injury. McGaughey told Horse Racing Nation Greatest Honour won’t need surgery.
According to the Daily Racing Form, McGaughey spotted something irregular in Greatest Honour coming out of the Florida Derby. He had the horse examined by Dr. Larry Bramlage, the renowned veterinarian at Rood & Riddle in Kentucky.
Greatest Honour faced trouble out of the Florida Derby
We last saw Greatest Honour finish a disappointing third as the 4/5 favorite to Known Agenda and Soup and Sandwich in the March 27 Florida Derby. That spoiled his run at sweeping the Gulfstream Park Derby preps, since Greatest Honour won January’s Grade 3 Holy Bull and February’s Grade 2 Fountain of Youth.
Those wins, in turn, made Greatest Honour one of the first-page Derby prospects, with his futures odds as low as 8/1. Before exiting the trail, Greatest Honour was 9/1 at Circa Sports and 14/1 at William Hill Nevada.
The Tapit progeny exits the Derby trail with 80 points, which placed him seventh. He checks out for the spring well-raced, hitting the board in all seven races (3-1-3) since his September 2020 debut. His checking out once again illustrates the perils of Thoroughbred racing in this era.
Greatest Honour is the latest Derby top-five prospect exiting due to injury. Likely Derby favorite Life Is Good suffered his ankle injury last month and departed until at least the fall.
McGaughey’s Derby prospects aren’t just any colt
The 70-year-old McGaughey built a well-earned reputation for patience and not pushing horses into the Derby. His Hall of Fame career dates to 1979 and includes nine Breeders’ Cup titles and the 1989 Belmont with Easy Goer. He’s only sent eight horses to the Derby, the last being Code of Honor two years ago. Both Code of Honor and Easy Goer finished second in their respective Derbies.
McGaughey’s only victory came with Orb in 2013, the horse Greatest Honour is compared to in terms of career path and talent.
McGaughey did not return an email to OG News.
No UAE Derby winner at Churchill Downs? Oh, well
Elsewhere on the Derby trail, connections for UAE Derby winner Rebel’s Romance announced Wednesday he would bypass the Derby. The Godolphin-owned colt will run the Belmont Stakes, according to a tweet from trainer Charlie Appleby.
Recent UAE Derby winner Rebel's Romance will not take his place in the @KentuckyDerby.
Trainer Charlie Appleby said, "Having spoken to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, we feel he needs more time and he will now be aimed at the last leg of the US Triple Crown, the G1 Belmont S." pic.twitter.com/jqY2xJmb09
— Godolphin (@godolphin) April 7, 2021
Rebel’s Romance’s defection means the UAE Derby winner will bypass the Derby for the first time in seven years. Given the UAE Derby winner’s record at Churchill Downs, horseplayers around the world give a collective shrug. The best Kentucky Derby finish by a UAE Derby winner is fifth by Master of Hounds in 2011.
Earlier this week, Gotham Stakes winner Weyburn’s trainer, Jimmy Jerkens, said his charge would likely pass the Derby as well. Jerkens too is targeting the longer Belmont Stakes for his charge after Weyburn finished fourth in the Wood Memorial.