Domestic Spending and United, two of the primary American horses in the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf, were both scratched Thursday morning by their trainers due to inflammation.

Domestic Spending-BC Turf
Domestic Spending was the 4/1 second choice to win the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf. He was scratched due to inflammation in his leg. (Image: Ella DeGea)

The scratches alter the dynamic of a race in which Domestic Spending was the 4/1 second favorite and considered the Great American Hope in a contest traditionally dominated by European horses. Exhibit A, being 9/5 favorite and defending champion Tarnawa.

Exhibit B being Europeans have won five of the last six Breeders’ Cup Turf races. Bricks and Mortar, the 2019 Horse of the Year, was the lone American winner in that string.

Domestic Spending was poised to break that domestic schneid. He came into the Breeders’ Cup’s penultimate race 4-1-0 in his last five. His four-race win streak ended with a second to Two Emmys in the Grade 1 Mr. D Stakes at Arlington Park in mid-August.

Domestic Spending took three Grade 1s in six months

Before that, the 4-year-old gelding won the Saratoga Derby in August 2020 and the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar last November. He opened 2021 with two Grade 1 wins on Triple Crown undercards: the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on the Derby undercard and the Manhattan Stakes at Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes Day.

“When I came in this morning, he unfortunately had some new and acute inflammation in his left fore(leg),” Brown told the Breeders’ Cup notes team. “He’s sound, but I’m not comfortable with it and I want to do more diagnostics on this horse. It’s just unfortunate timing. We want to get him back to Kentucky and do some evaluation on this limb and see what’s causing it and how much time we need. The more I looked at it, the more I didn’t like where the inflammation is.”

It’s not like Brown is starved for Breeders’ Cup charges. He still has Rockemperor (15/1) and Tribhuvan (6/1) in the 14-horse field. And Domestic Spending’s defection puts Belmont Derby Invitational winner Bolshoi Ballet into the field.

United pulled from third Breeders’ Cup

As for United, Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella pulled the 6-year-old gelding out after he detected swelling in United’s suspensory ligament.

“He’d shown a little swelling over the past four or five days, so we scanned the leg as a precaution and the result was negative,” Mandella told the Breeders’ Cup notes team. “Today, we gave him a good, strong gallop and the swelling returned. We scanned him again and it was clean. We’re not going to take any chances with him.”

United carried 20/1 morning-line odds into what would have been his third consecutive Breeders’ Cup Turf. Two years ago, he finished second by a head to Bricks and Mortar at 50/1. Last year, he finished eighth to Tarnawa.

United finished either fourth or first in 2021

United came to Del Mar off his victory in the Grade 2 John Henry Turf Championship at Santa Anita on Oct. 2. He has three wins in five 2021 starts, finishing fourth in the other two races.

“He’s been going pretty steady for the past two and a half years,” Mandella said. “The good news is that we’ll just give him a rest and bring him back next year.”

United’s defection puts Channel Maker into the field.